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Illinois farmer-owned elevator is keeping up with technology
By CINDY LADAGE
Illinois Correspondent

LOWDER, Ill. — To keep up with the ever-changing farm industry through challenging economic times, the Farmers Elevator Co. of Lowder, Ill. expands and updates.

This elevator that is part of the local history remains a vital part of the economy.

“The Farmers Elevator Co. of Lowder started in 1905. So, we were 100-years-old Dec. 20, 2005,” said elevator manager Greg Dolbeare. The elevator that visitors see today is not the original.

“This is the fourth elevator that has been built on this site,” Dolbeare explained.

On the wall of his office, Dolbeare keeps a photo of the Lowder elevator as it originally was with wagons full of grain being pulled by horses. Although the elevator shown in the picture has changed, the busy atmosphere has not. The elevator has been recognized by the State of Illinois for its historical significance. Dolbeare said the elevator has even become a calendar pinup.

The photo that graces his office wall was selected to be the picture for the month of November in the Illinois State Historical Society calendar.

While the elevator could rest on its historic laurels, it is keeping up with the times and even expanding. According to its website at www.lowderelevator.com, the elevator offers grain storage and drying, transportation of bulk commodities, buying and selling of grains, custom fertilizer application, buying and selling of agricultural products, custom herbicide and insecticide application, buying and selling of seed.

The current elevator has a storage capacity of about 3.5 million bushels.

Its sister elevator in Auburn, Ill. can hold another 1.8 million bushels allowing the Farmers Elevator Co. to offer farmers in central Illinois a total of 5.3 million bushel storage.

The Lowder location has kept up with technology by expanding. The most recent update was building a new elevator.

Dolbeare explained that the new building has two new concrete silos with total new storage capacity of 150,000 and 460,000 bushels each.

He added, at Lowder, they also have a hopper bottom metal bin for fines cleaned out of corn that holds 21,000 bushels. Besides the hopper bottom, the new elevator touts two 1,000 bushel-plus truck un-loading pits with 35,000 receiving capacity.

Storage is not the whole story. They must be able to move grain from truck to elevator then back to truck or rail. To accomplish this, they added a leg that moves 20,000 bushels of grain offering both receiving and shipping capacity. Along with this leg, there is also another dry leg that can hold 15,000 bushels.

Dry corn isn’t always how the product arrives. To accommodate wet corn, Farmers Elevator Co. added a 10,000 bushel wet corn leg for the feeding dryer along with the 150,000-bin hopper unload for wet corn.

One of the most important upgrades that Farmers Elevator Co. has done to stay competitive is enhance their rail capability. By adding a 60,000-bushel per hour overhead track scale, they are able to fill cars that rest on the 7,500 feet of rail siding in the loop track that is big enough to hold an entire train.

The Lowder elevator has a total of 10,000 feet of track capacity. “Before we built the loop, the track could hold 20 cars - now it can hold 160 cars,” Dolbeare explained.

The elevator is farmer-owned.

“Farmers Elevator of Lowder is owned by 120 farmers who own stock,” Dolbeare said.

For more details about the elevator, call 1-800-546-9023 or visit its website.

This farm news was published in the March 8, 2006 issue of Farm World.

3/8/2006