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Bar None Ranches (South), Nanton, Alberta

Grain Storage Bins at the Bar None Ranch, showing the Expandable Crossover SystemGrain Storage Bins at the Bar None Ranch, showing the Expandable Crossover System

Near Nanton, Alberta, Bar None Ranches (South) built a mammoth 430,000-bushel grain handling system in 1997, served by two 10-inch Hutchinson grain pumps. The farm includes 7,000 acres of cropland producing wheat and barley.

The Bar None system has ten 40,000-bushel flat bottom bins and three 10,000-bushel hopper bins. Two 30-hp electric motors power each grain pump. The 10-inch loops are about 700 feet long and 54 feet high.


These are the largest farm grain bins that can be placed on 36’concrete pads. The hopper bins run in conjunction with a five million BTU grain dryer, fuelled by natural gas. It can dry up to 1,200 bushels an hour. Tough grain can move from one or two “wet” bins, into the dryer. Dried grain cools in the third hopper bin, and then is fed into the grain loop system for final storage to the big bins.

Two trucks can dump into input hoppers at the same time. It takes about half an hour to empty or fill a B-train with barley. While not common, the system will occasionally plug. Draining a 54-foot vertical column takes about 10 minutes. Grain drains onto the concrete pad and can be swept back into the hopper. Then simply re-start the system.

About 80% of the system is filled with the ranches own barley and wheat. They also produce some winter wheat and fall rye. When the system has extra capacity, it’s rented to a neighbour for storage.


OP1 heat-sensor systems are standard in the grain loop systems at Bar None. The big units each have three cables with eight heat sensors at different elevations. They can be monitored from a computer inside the control house. The grain pump easily moves product around, if a warm spot develops. All 40,000-bushel bins are equipped with aeration.

Climbing is usually unnecessary. A few inches below the top of the top ring, a simple electric sensor activates when it contacts grain. It sets off a buzzer and a light, warning the operator that the fill level has reached the last 500 bushels of available space. The operator then has a few minutes to select another bin in the system.


The system was built to market barley and grain from a central point. Trucks can get into here year-round because it’s built on a good site that’s central to all the cropland. Loads can also be blended, light barley with heavy barley, to make grade.

This consolidated system also makes the farm attractive to haul from and companies compete for their business because the grain handling system works so well.

Safety is a consideration in system design. Sweeps in the big bins reduce the physical exertion and save time. Switching augers from silo to silo and climbing stairs are distant memories. Protective grates and guardrails are everywhere that people need protection.