Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




This study was undertaken to determine some of the characteristics which cause some elevators to grow and others to decline. The identification of such characteristics has important implications for grain elevator operators, farmers, and community leaders of small towns. South Dakota is served by 450 elevators and they were first analyzed on the basis of their radius of business and the volume of grain they handle per year. When the radius of business for eighteen large elevators was averaged, it was found that the average radius was 32.4 miles. Based on this radius of business, it was found that South Dakota could be served by 34 elevators. North Dakota and Ohio studies indicated an elevator should handle at least one million bushels of grain annually if they want to achieve some minimum economies of scale. If all the elevators in South Dakota handled one million bushels only 150 elevators would be needed. Thus, it appears that South Dakota may have more elevators than is needed. The growth rates for both the farm supply and service departments and the grain merchandising departments were analyzed. Many of the grain merchandising departments had a declining growth rate while a number of the farm supply and service departments had a rapidly growing rate of growth. This indicates that much of the growth in grain elevators during the five year period studied was in the farm supply and service departments. An analysis was also made to determine if there is a relationship between the types of goods and services sold and the growth of an elevator. Certain goods and services did show a positive relationship. In general, they tended to be of a technical nature such as fertilizer specialists, farm mapping, bulk fertilizer, and liquid feed. Some conclusions that were derived from the overall results of these tests are that the rapidly growing elevators are often the first ones to introduce technical goods and services.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Grain elevators

Grain elevators -- South Dakota

South Dakota State University Theses



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University