Multi-purpose makes sense on the farm

Tom Guetterman farms nearly 10,000 acres in Bucyrus, Kan., and needed a multi-use building to store grain during harvest season and adequately hold large farm equipment for the remainder of the year. He purchased his metal building in 2006 from Liberty Building Systems and contracted Strickland Construction of Olathe, Kan., to erect the structure.

The 10,000-square-foot metal building features a concrete tunnel built into the floor, housing a chain conveyor for unloading grain, and two 30-foot doors on each end to easily accommodate large equipment.

The rising demand for ethanol has sparked a construction boom in corn storage facilities across the nation. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, ethanol production is projected to exceed 13 billion gallons per year by early 2009, if not sooner. This rapidly expanding industry has found its home with corn storage — nearly all ethanol produced in the United States uses corn as its feedstock.

Over the past two years, the Midwest Farmers Cooperative has overseen construction of 2.3 million bushels of storage space, more than was built in the previous 15 years.

During the shorter fall harvest, Guetterman’s metal building is filled to the brim with grain and has the ability to hold approximately 100,000 bushels. When corn is not in season, Guetterman houses all kinds of combines, planters and other machinery inside the spacious building.

“We needed a versatile building, one that allowed us the flexibility to store as much grain as we wanted yet still maneuver large machinery in and out of the structure,” Guetterman said. “One of the reasons we decided on a metal building was the wide beams and absence of rafters — it’s an overall better fit for what we needed.”

According to Guetterman, farmers in the area are split between metal building and other structures, although he sees more and more metal buildings all the time. He personally employed wood-framed buildings in the 1980s and revisited them for this project, but decided on a metal building solution from Liberty.

Versatile building solutions

“They’re strong, spacious and hold more grain and equipment than anything else,” Guetterman said of his choice of Liberty Buildings. “We’ve had great luck with them!”

As it turns out, metal buildings are a big part of Guetterman’s operation. He uses another steel-framed metal building, comparable in size, to house office space.

Glen Richardson, president of Strickland Construction, and his team helped guide the Guettermans through the process and erected the entire structure in less than two weeks.

“Basically, they are large farmers with large equipment — this metal building was a clear solution for the needs they had,” Richardson said.

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