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Title:
CROP RETENTION SYSTEMS, CONTAINERS, AND ASSOCIATED METHODS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/129126
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A crop retention container includes two end walls spaced apart and facing each other, two side walls connected to and extending between the two end walls; a top side having an opening, a bottom side positioned opposite the top side, and an air permeable floor positioned between the top side and the bottom side and extending between the two side walls and separating the container into an upper portion to retain crop contents when positioned therein and a lower portion to facilitate air circulation through the upper portion, the lower portion defining an interstitial space between the bottom side and the air permeable floor. At least one of the end walls comprises an openable portion to provide access to the upper portion through which contents can be expelled.

Inventors:
LINGAM PRATAP (US)
Application Number:
PCT/US2018/012301
Publication Date:
July 12, 2018
Filing Date:
January 04, 2018
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
KWIK EQUIPMENT SALES LLC (US)
International Classes:
B65D88/12; A01F25/14; B65D88/74; F24F7/10; F25D17/04; F26B25/10
Foreign References:
US3981083A1976-09-21
CN101531211A2009-09-16
US20050220559A12005-10-06
US20080223878A12008-09-18
US20160114969A12016-04-28
US20130047458A12013-02-28
US20050126425A12005-06-16
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WHITTLE, Jeffrey, S. (609 Main St Ste 420, Houston TX, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A crop retention system comprising:

a first container including:

two end walls spaced apart and facing each other,

two side walls connected to and extending between the two end walls,

a top side having an opening,

a bottom side positioned opposite the top side,

an air permeable floor positioned between the top side and the bottom side and extending between the two side walls and separating the container into an upper portion to retain crop contents when positioned therein and a lower portion to facilitate air circulation through the upper portion, the lower portion defining an interstitial space between the bottom side and the air permeable floor, and

a stacking interface located on one or more of the top side and the bottom side; a second container stackable with the first container via the stacking interface; and a trailer including a plurality of wheels, the container positionable on and detachable from the trailer.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein the air permeable floor includes one or more of: a perforated material, mesh, and netting material, and wherein the air permeable floor retains the crop contents thereabove.

3. The system of claim 1, wherein at least one of the two end walls includes an openable portion to provide access to the upper portion and through which the crop contents can be expelled.

4. The system of claim 1, wherein the trailer includes a skeletal platform.

5. The system of claim 1, wherein the trailer includes a platform having a narrower width than the distance between the two side walls such that the container extends beyond the platform when the container is positioned on the platform.

6. The system of claim 5, wherein the bottom side of the container includes a recessed portion to receive the platform and to stabilize the container on the platform.

7. The system of claim 1, wherein the trailer is stackable with a second trailer.

8. The system of claim 7, wherein the trailer and second trailer each include a gooseneck end and a wheel end, the trailer and second trailer stacked gooseneck end to wheel end.

9. A crop retention container comprising:

two end walls spaced apart and facing each other;

two side walls connected to and extending between the two end walls;

a top side having an opening;

a bottom side positioned opposite the top side;

an air permeable floor positioned between the top side and the bottom side and extending between the two side walls and separating the container into an upper portion to retain crop contents when positioned therein and a lower portion to facilitate air circulation through the upper portion, the lower portion defining an interstitial space between the bottom side and the air permeable floor, and at least one of the end walls comprises an openable portion to provide access to the upper portion through which contents can be expelled.

10. The crop retention container of claim 9, further comprising a stacking support member positioned on at least one of the top side and bottom side to facilitate stacking with another container and provide additional structural support for the stacking.

11. The crop retention container of claim 9, wherein any one or more of the two side walls and two end walls has a corrugated configuration.

12. The crop retention container of claim 9, wherein the top side includes a plurality of support members extending between any combination of the two side walls and two end walls to provide additional structural support to the container.

13. The crop retention container of claim 9, wherein the container further includes a support beam extending between the two side walls in the upper portion and angled support members extending from the two side walls to the support beam to provide additional structural support to the container.

14. The crop retention container of claim 9, further comprising a lifting interface by which the container can be lifted by a lifting machine.

15. The crop retention container of claim 14, wherein the lifting interface includes two slots formed at a base of the container, the two slots spaced apart to receive fork lift prongs.

16. The crop retention container of claim 9, wherein the air permeable floor includes one or more of: a perforated material, mesh, or netting material and retains the contents thereabove.

17. The crop retention container of claim 9, further comprising an air blower positioned at one side of the lower portion to blow air into the interstitial space.

18. A method of operating a crop retention system, the method comprising:

detaching a crop retention container from a trailer, the crop retention container including: two end walls spaced apart and facing each other,

two end walls spaced apart and facing each other,

two side walls connected to and extending between the two end walls, a top side having an opening,

a bottom side positioned opposite the top side,

an air permeable floor positioned between the top side and the bottom side and extending between the two side walls and separating the container into an upper portion to retain crop contents when positioned therein and a lower portion to facilitate air circulation through the upper portion, the lower portion defining an interstitial space between the bottom side and the air permeable floor, and

at least one of the end walls comprises an openable portion to provide access to the upper portion through which contents can be expelled; lifting the crop retention container via a lifting mechanism; and

stacking the crop retention container on top of a second container.

19. The method of claim 18, further comprising stacking the crop retention container on the second container via a stacking interface, the stacking interface providing at least one of: alignment and structural support.

20. The method of claim 16, further comprising tilting the crop retention container and expelling the crop out of an opening in one of the end walls.

21. A crop retention container comprising:

two end walls spaced apart and facing each other, at least one of the end walls including an openable portion to provide access to the crop retention container and through which crop contents can be expelled;

two side walls connected to and extending between the two end walls;

a top side having an opening;

a bottom side positioned opposite the top side; and

a floor extending between the two side walls and movable between a flat position and a hopper position, the floor including at least a first segment and a second segment, and

in the flat position, the first and second segments share a plane and are parallel to the top or bottom side of the container and the floor separates the container into an upper portion to retain contents therein and a lower portion defining an interstitial space between the floor and the bottom side of the container to facilitate air circulation, and in the hopper position, the first and second segments are at an angle to each other and separated by a gap to provide access to an interior region of the container.

22. The crop retention container of claim 21, wherein the floor is air permeable.

23. The crop retention container of claim 21, further comprising one or more guide features positioned on the two end walls or at least one of the two side walls to guide movement of the first and second segments of the floor during transition between the flat position and the hopper position.

24. The crop retention container of claim 21, wherein the floor further includes one or more floor reduction members, the floor reduction members forming a portion of the floor and sharing a plane with the first and second segments and removable to place the floor into the hopper position.

25. The crop retention container of claim 24, wherein the one or more floor reduction members includes a middle segment positioned between and sharing the plane with the first and second segments when the floor is in the flat position.

26. The crop retention container of claim 24, wherein the one or more floor reduction members includes two removable end pieces that are positioned adjacent outer ends of the first and second segments when the floor is in the flat position.

27. The crop retention container of claim 21, wherein in the hopper position, outer ends of the first and second segments are closer to the top side of the container than inner ends of the first and second segments.

28. The crop retention container of claim 21, wherein in the hopper position, a hatch is positioned between the inner ends of the first and second segments, the hatch being openable to provide access to an interior region of the container.

29. A crop retention system comprising:

a container including:

two end walls spaced apart and facing each other, at least one of the end walls including an openable portion to provide access to the crop retention container and through which crop contents can be expelled,

two side walls connected to and extending between the two end walls, a top side having an opening,

a bottom side positioned opposite the top side, and

a floor extending between the two side walls and movable between a flat position and a hopper position, the floor including at least a first segment and a second segment, and

in the flat position, the first and second segments share a plane and are parallel to the top or bottom side of the container and the floor separates the container into an upper portion to retain contents therein and a lower portion defining an interstitial space between the floor and the bottom side of the container to facilitate air circulation, and in the hopper position, the first and second segments are at an angle to each and separated by a gap to provide access to an interior region of the container;

a second container stackable with the container; and

a trailer including a plurality of wheels, the container positionable on and detachable from the trailer.

30. The system of claim 29, wherein the trailer includes a platform having a narrower width than the distance between the two side walls such that the container extends beyond the platform when the container is placed on the platform.

31. The system of claim 29, wherein the bottom side of the container includes a recessed portion to receive the trailer platform and to stabilize the container on the trailer platform.

32. The system of claim 29, wherein the trailer is stackable with a second trailer.

33. The system of claim 32, wherein the trailer and second trailer each include a gooseneck end and a wheel end, the trailer and second trailer stacked gooseneck end to wheel end.

34. The system of claim 29, wherein the air permeable floor includes one or more of: a perforated material, mesh, and netting material, and wherein the floor retains the crop contents thereabove.

35. A method of operating a crop retention container, the method comprising:

moving a first segment of a floor of the crop retention container between a first flat position and a first angled position, the floor being air penetrable; and

moving a second segment of the floor between a second flat position and a second angled position, and

when the first and second segments are in the first and second flat positions, the first and second segments share a plane and the floor separates the container into an upper portion to retain contents therein and a lower portion defining an interstitial space between the floor and a bottom side of the container to facilitate air circulation, and

when the first and second segments are in the first and second angled positions, the first and second segments at an angle to each other and separated by a gap, the gap providing access to an interior of the crop retention container.

36. The method of claim 35, further comprising removing a middle segment from between the first and second segments to move the first and second segments from the first and second flat positions to the first and second angled positions.

37. The method of claim 35, further comprising positioning a hatch in the gap between the first and second segments.

38. The method of claim 35, further comprising:

filling the container with a first crop type when the first and second segments of the floor are in the first and second flat positions; and filling the container with a second crop type when the first and second segments of the floor are in the first and second angled positions.

39. The method of claim 35, further comprising separating the container from a trailer.

40. The method of claim 35, further comprising stacking the container with another container.

Description:
CROP RETENTION SYSTEMS, CONTAINERS, AND ASSOCIATED METHODS Inventor: Pratap G. Lingam (US)

Cross-Reference to Related Applications

[0001] This application is a PCT application claiming priority to and the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 62/443,500, filed January 6, 2017, titled "Peanut Drying Container," and U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 62/478,411, filed March 29, 2017, titled "Crop Retention Systems, Containers, and Associated Methods," each of which is incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.

Field of Invention

[0002] This invention relates in general to equipment and methods used in the farming industry, and in particular, to systems, containers and methods related to crop retention.

Background

[0003] Certain crops, such as peanuts, are typically grown during the spring and summer months, and harvested beginning about the end of August, or about 120 to 160 days after planting. During the harvest, farmers typically pulls up the crop plants, shakes off the soil, and lays each plant upside down, with the crops exposed. The crop plants may be left in this position for a period of time, such as a few days, to cure, or dry, before moving to the next step.

[0004] Next, a combine can be used to separate the crops from the plants, where the crops are deposited into a crop trailer. In the crop trailer, the crops are further cured and dried for up to 12 hours and then stored in a warehouse for continued drying. Depending on the weather and other factors, such trailer drying can last from about two up to about three or four months. Once fully dried, the crops can be shipped, stored, or otherwise processed.

[0005] One of the largest pieces of equipment used in the crop harvest operation is the trailer or wagon in which the crops are dried. As discussed above, such trailer is only needed for crop drying purposes for a few months every year. The rest of the year, such as during the winter and crop growing months, there is no need for the crop drying trailers. The result of this seasonal requirement is that most of the time crop trailer remain unused, and must be stored by the farmer or others until needed at crop harvesting time. Because the crop trailers can be very large, such storage can be expensive, and can require valuable real estate that could be used for other purposes. In addition, the downtime of the equipment can be considered a loss to farmers or others, since known crop trailers are not used for other purposes.

Summary

[0006] In view of the foregoing, a need is recognized for an enhanced crop retention container and system with increased functionality and usability, and decreased storage footprint. Embodiments of such a crop retention system and associated methods are provided.

[0007] According to an embodiment of the disclosure, a crop retention system includes a first container, a second container, and a trailer. The first container includes two end walls spaced apart and facing each other, two side walls connected to and extending between the two end walls, a top side having an opening, a bottom side positioned opposite the top side, and a stacking interface located on one or more of the top side and the bottom side. The first container further includes an air permeable floor positioned between the top side and the bottom side and extending between the two side walls and separating the container into an upper portion to retain crop contents when positioned therein and a lower portion to facilitate air circulation through the upper portion, the lower portion defining an interstitial space between the bottom side and the air permeable floor. The second container is stackable with the first container via the stacking interface. The trailer includes a plurality of wheels and the container is positionable on and detachable from the trailer.

[0008] According to an embodiment of the disclosure, a crop retention container includes two end walls spaced apart and facing each other, two side walls connected to and extending between the two end walls; a top side having an opening, a bottom side positioned opposite the top side, and an air permeable floor positioned between the top side and the bottom side and extending between the two side walls and separating the container into an upper portion to retain crop contents when positioned therein and a lower portion to facilitate air circulation through the upper portion, the lower portion defining an interstitial space between the bottom side and the air permeable floor. At least one of the end walls comprises an openable portion to provide access to the upper portion through which contents can be expelled.

[0009] According to an embodiment of the disclosure, a method of operating a crop retention system includes detaching a crop retention container from a trailer, the crop retention container including two end walls spaced apart and facing each other, two end walls spaced apart and facing each other, two side walls connected to and extending between the two end walls, a top side having an opening, a bottom side positioned opposite the top side, and an air permeable floor positioned between the top side and the bottom side and extending between the two side walls and separating the container into an upper portion to retain crop contents when positioned therein and a lower portion to facilitate air circulation through the upper portion, the lower portion defining an interstitial space between the bottom side and the air permeable floor. At least one of the end walls comprises an openable portion to provide access to the upper portion through which contents can be expelled. The method further includes lifting the crop retention container via a lifting mechanism, and stacking the crop retention container on top of a second container.

[0010] According to an embodiment of the disclosure, a crop retention container includes two end walls spaced apart and facing each other, at least one of the end walls including an openable portion to provide access to the crop retention container and through which crop contents can be expelled. The crop retention container further includes two side walls connected to and extending between the two end walls, a top side having an opening, a bottom side positioned opposite the top side, and a floor extending between the two side walls and movable between a flat position and a hopper position, the floor including at least a first segment and a second segment. In the flat position, the first and second segments share a plane and are parallel to the top or bottom side of the container and the floor separates the container into an upper portion to retain contents therein and a lower portion defining an interstitial space between the floor and the bottom side of the container to facilitate air circulation. In the hopper position, the first and second segments are at an angle to each other and separated by a gap to provide access to an interior region of the container.

[0011] According to an embodiment of the disclosure, a crop retention system includes a container, a second container, and a trailer. The container includes two end walls spaced apart and facing each other, at least one of the end walls including an openable portion to provide access to the crop retention container and through which crop contents can be expelled, two side walls connected to and extending between the two end walls, a top side having an opening, a bottom side positioned opposite the top side, and a floor extending between the two side walls and movable between a flat position and a hopper position, the floor including at least a first segment and a second segment. In the flat position, the first and second segments share a plane and are parallel to the top or bottom side of the container and the floor separates the container into an upper portion to retain contents therein and a lower portion defining an interstitial space between the floor and the bottom side of the container to facilitate air circulation. In the hopper position, the first and second segments are at an angle to each and separated by a gap to provide access to an interior region of the container. The second container is stackable with the container. The trailer includes a plurality of wheels, and the container is positionable on and detachable from the trailer.

[0012] According to an embodiment of the disclosure, a method of operating a crop retention container includes moving a first segment of a floor of the crop retention container between a first flat position and a first angled position, the floor being air penetrable, and moving a second segment of the floor between a second flat position and a second angled position. When the first and second segments are in the first and second flat positions, the first and second segments share a plane and the floor separates the container into an upper portion to retain contents therein and a lower portion defining an interstitial space between the floor and a bottom side of the container to facilitate air circulation. When the first and second segments are in the first and second angled positions, the first and second segments at an angle to each other and separated by a gap, the gap providing access to an interior of the crop retention container.

Brief Description of the Drawings

[0013] The foregoing aspects, features, and advantages of the present disclosure will be further appreciated when considered with reference to the following description of embodiments and accompanying drawings. In describing the embodiments of the disclosure illustrated in the appended drawings, specific terminology will be used for the sake of clarity. However, the disclosure is not intended to be limited to the specific terms used, and it is to be understood that each specific term includes equivalents that operate in a similar manner to accomplish a similar purpose.

[0014] Fig. 1 shows an isometric view of a crop container from a first end, according to an embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0015] Fig. 2 shows a side view of the crop container, according to an embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0016] Fig. 3A shows an isometric view of the crop container from a second end with an openable portion in a closed position, according to an embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0017] Fig. 3B shows an isometric view of the crop container from the second end with the openable portion in an open position, according to an embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0018] Fig. 4 shows an elevation view of the second end of the crop container, according to an embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0019] Fig. 5 shows a top view of the crop container, according to an embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0020] Fig. 6 shows an isometric view of the crop container with casters, according to an embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0021] Fig. 7A shows a cross-sectional view of the crop container taken along line 6-6 of Fig. 2, according to an embodiment of the present disclosure. [0022] Fig. 7B shows a cross-sectional view of a crop container according to an alternate embodiment to that shown in Fig. 7 A.

[0023] Fig. 8 shows a side view of a crop retention system having a crop container being positioned on a trailer, according to an embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0024] Fig. 9 shows a side view of a plurality of trailers stacked together, according to an embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0025] Fig. 10 shows the stacking of a crop container on top of another crop container, according to an embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0026] Fig. 11 shows the lifting of two stacked crop containers, according to an embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0027] Fig. 12A shows a side cross-sectional view of a foldable crop container in a flat configuration, according to an embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0028] Fig. 12B shows a side cross-sectional view of the foldable crop container in a hopper configuration, according to an embodiment of the present disclosure.

[0029] Fig. 13 shows stacks of crop containers and trailers at a facility, according to an embodiment of the present disclosure.

Detailed Description of the Invention

[0030] The foregoing aspects, features, and advantages of the present disclosure will be further appreciated when considered with reference to the following description of embodiments and accompanying drawings. In describing the embodiments of the disclosure illustrated in the appended drawings, specific terminology will be used for the sake of clarity. However, the disclosure is not intended to be limited to the specific terms used, and it is to be understood that each specific term includes equivalents that operate in a similar manner to accomplish a similar purpose.

[0031] When introducing elements of various embodiments of the present disclosure, the articles "a", "an", "the", and "said" are intended to mean that there are one or more of the elements. The terms "comprising", "including", and "having" are intended to be inclusive and mean that there may be additional elements other than the listed elements. Any examples of operating parameters and/or environmental conditions are not exclusive of other parameters/conditions of the disclosed embodiments. Additionally, it should be understood that references to "one embodiment", "an embodiment", "certain embodiments", or "other embodiments" of the present disclosure are not intended to be interpreted as excluding the existence of additional embodiments that also incorporate the recited features. Furthermore, reference to terms such as "above", "below", "upper", "lower", "side", "front", "back", or other terms regarding orientation or direction are made with reference to the illustrated embodiments and are not intended to be limiting or exclude other orientations or directions.

[0032] One embodiment of the present technology provides an improved crop drying container that is stackable, and designed to reduce the storage footprint of multiple containers. For example, Fig. 1 shows an isometric view of crop container 10 according to an embodiment of the present technology. The crop container 10 includes a first end wall 16, a second end wall 40 (Fig. 3) facing the first end wall 16, and two side walls 12, 14, extending between the two end walls. The container further includes a top side 18 having an opening and a bottom side 24 opposite the top side 18. The top side 18 may include support members 20 positioned along all or a portion thereof to provide structural support. In one or more embodiments, the support members can extend between any combination of the two side walls 12, 14, the first end wall 16, and the second end wall 40, to provide additional structural support to the container. The first end wall 16 can cover a substantial portion of the end of the crop container 10, but leaves an interstitial space 22 near the bottom 24 of the crop container 10. Internal members 26 can be positioned within the interstitial space 22 and provide additional structural support to the crop container 10. The crop container 10 further includes a floor 28 (shown, e.g., in Fig. 5) separating the trailer into an upper portion 30 and a lower portion 32. The upper portion 30 (best shown in Figs. 6 and 7), between the floor 28 and the open top 18, provides a space for crop storage. The lower portion 32 (again shown in Figs. 6 and 7), between the floor 28 and the bottom 24 of the crop container 10, defines the interstitial space 22, and provides an area for air to circulate beneath the crop in the upper portion 30. In one or more embodiments, the floor 28 is air permeable and facilitates air circulation through the upper portion 30 while retaining the crops within the upper portion 30 and preventing the passage of crops through the floor 28. The floor 28 may include a perforated material, mesh, or netting material. Also as depicted in Fig. 1, the crop container may include a lifting interface such as slots 34, which may be configured and spaced apart to accept the blades of a forklift or other lifting machine. The crop container may further include a stacking interface such as corner pieces 36, which may be configured to interlock with the corner pieces of other crop containers to facilitate stacking and provide added structural support for the stacking.

[0033] In practice, crops can be received by the crop container 10 through the open top 18, where the crops fill or partially fill the upper portion 30 above the floor 28. The crops are contained in the upper portion 30 by the side walls 12, 14, the first end wall 16, and the second end well 40. A blower or other mechanism capable of circulating air may then be positioned at the end of the crop container 10 adjacent the interstitial space 22 to move air through the lower portion 32. Because the floor 28 is perforated or otherwise air permeable, the circulating air passes through the floor 28, and then through the crops and out the top 18 of the crop container 10. In certain embodiments, the air maybe heated. The circulating air helps to further dry and cure the crops as they rest in the upper portion 30 of the crop container 10 above the floor 28. A side view of a crop container 10 is depicted in Fig. 2. Clearly shown are vertical support members 38, which can be positioned along the side and end walls of the crop container to provide additional structural support.

[0034] Referring to Figs. 3A and 3B, there is shown an isometric view of a crop container 10 from the second end 40 according to certain embodiments of the present technology. In the embodiment shown, the second end wall 40 is divided into a fixed portion 42 and an openable portion 44. In some embodiments, and as illustrated, the openable portion includes a hinged door. Fig. 3A shows the openable portion 44 in a closed position and Fig. 3B shows the openable portion 44 in an open position. In some embodiments, the openable portion 44 is articulated by hinges 48 or other means attaching the openable portion 44 to the fixed portion 42 of the second end wall 40. In practice, the openable portion 44 can be used to provide access to the upper portion 30 of the crop container 10 and to empty the container of crops when desired. For example, when the crops are adequately dried or cured, the crop container 10 can be tilted, or the first end raised, so that the crops shift toward the second end wall 40 of the crop container 10 and are expelled out through the openable portion 44. In some embodiments, such as that illustrated, the upper end 46 of the openable portion 44 of the second end wall 40 is positioned above the floor 28, so that as the openable portion 44 swings open via the hinges 48, and crops fall from the container by gravity. Once emptied, the crop container 10 is ready to receive a new batch of crops. [0035] Fig. 4 shows the second end 40 of the crop container 10, including the fixed portion 42 and the openable portion 44. Also shown in Fig. 4 is a ladder 50 that can be attached to the container, either at the second end wall 40, the first end wall 16, or any other appropriate place, to allow personnel to climb to the top 18 of the container. Such access by personnel to the top 18 of the crop container 10 may be advantageous to allow for maintenance or other activities. Fig. 5 shows a top view of the crop container 10 including, as discussed above, the floor 28. As illustrated in Fig. 6, in some embodiments, the crop container 10 may include a plurality of casters 51 that facilitate moving of the crop container 10 on the ground.

[0036] Fig. 7A shows a cross-sectional view of a crop container taken along line 6-6 of Fig. 2. Included in Fig. 7 A is a depiction of internal support members 52 which, in the embodiment shown, include a support beam extending between the two side walls 12, 14 and two angled support members extending from the two sides walls 12, 14, respectively, to the support beam. These internal support members 52 add additional structural support to the crop container 10, providing beneficial reinforcement, particularly when the upper portion 30 of the container is filled with crops.

[0037] Fig. 7B shows a cross-sectional view of the crop container according to an alternate embodiment to that shown in Fig. 6. In particular, the crop container 10 of Fig. 7B includes angled interior side walls 54. The angled interior side walls 54 change the shape of the interior of the crop container 10 into a hopper shape. One advantage to inclusion of the angled interior side walls 54 is that during the operation of emptying the crop container 10, the angled interior side walls 54 can help to guide the crops toward the opening created by the openable portion 44 of the second end wall 40, thereby reducing the tendency of crops to stick in the corners of the crop container 10 and resist leaving the crop container 10. [0038] Referring to Fig. 8, there is shown a crop retention system 80 that includes the crop container 10, substantially as described above, and a trailer 56. The crop container 10 is positionable on the trailer 56, but is not integral to the trailer 56. Thus, the crop container 10 can be carried by the trailer 56 to be transported between locations, but can be separated from the trailer for stacking or storage. Additionally, the crop container 10 being removable and separable from the trailer is advantageous because it allows the trailer 56 to be used for other applications when not carrying the crop container 10. Trailer chassis can be any appropriate type of chassis, such as, for example, standard gooseneck or extendable chassis, or fixed chassis. The illustrated embodiment includes a gooseneck end 82 and a plurality of wheels 88 at a wheel end 84. In some embodiments, the trailer 56 may include a skeletal platform 86. In some embodiments, the bottom side 24 of the crop container 10 includes a recess or notch to receive the platform of the trailer 56 and to stabilize the crop container 10 on the platform. Thus, the platform has a narrower width than the distance between the two side walls 12, 14 such that the crop container 10 extends beyond the platform when the crop container 10 is positioned on the platform. All trailers can be used to haul various containers throughout the industry to generate additional revenue during the year.

[0039] Furthermore, as shown in Fig. 9, the trailers 56 may be stackable with each other. One advantage to such stackability is that the footprint of multiple trailers can be reduced when the trailers 56 are stored. In addition, multiple trailers 56 can be transported from one location to another simultaneously by stacking excess trailers 56 atop an operational trailer 56. In some embodiments, the trailers 56 may be stacked gooseneck end 82 to wheel end 84, as shown in Fig. 9.

[0040] As shown in Figs. 10 and 11, the crop containers 10 of the present technology can also be stacked. In some embodiments, the container may include a lifting interface by which the container can be lifted. The lifting interface may include slots 34 located near the bottom of the container and spaced apart to receive the blades 60 of a forklift 58. The forklift can then lift the container 10 to stack it on top of another container or surface. Any other appropriate lifting equipment can be also used to move the crop containers 10. Optionally, stacking interfaces such as corner pieces 36 of the crop containers 10 can be configured to fit together, or to interlock, to help support and/or stabilize the crop containers 10 when stacked. As shown in Fig. 11, the forklift 58 can alternately be used to lift more than one crop container 10 at a time. Although the crop containers 10 of Figs. 10 and 11 are specifically shown lifted by a forklift 58 having blades 60, it is to be understood that alternate types of forklifts or other lifting mechanisms can alternately be used, such as lifting mechanisms that lift from the top, or lifting mechanisms that use magnets instead of or in addition to blades, cranes, etc. In addition to the stackability of the trailers and the containers, the trailers and containers can be rented or leased when not needed for drying operations. Some uses for the trailers may include, for example, rent or lease to other intermodal drayage carriers to generate additional revenue.

[0041] In one or more embodiments, a method of operating the crop retention system 80 includes detaching the crop container 10 from the trailer 56, such as after transporting the crop container 10 to the desired location, then lifting the crop container 10 via a lifting mechanism and stacking the crop container 10 on top of another cop container 10. In some embodiments, the method includes tilting the crop container and expelling the crops out of the openable portion 44.

[0042] Referring to Figs. 12A and 12B, there is shown a side cross-sectional view of a crop container 110 according to an alternate embodiment of the present technology. Crop container 110 includes a first end wall 116 and a second end wall 140, as well as a first side wall (not shown) and a second side wall 114. The container 110 also includes a top side 118, a bottom side 124, and a floor 128. In some embodiments, the top side 118 is open or has an opening, and includes support members 120 extending between any combination of the end walls 116, 140, the first side wall, and the second side wall 114. In one or more embodiments, the floor 128 extends between the two side walls and is movable between a flat position, illustrated in Fig. 12A, and a hopper position, illustrated in Fig. 12B. Further, the floor 128 may be divided into a plurality of segments, shown in Fig. 12 as segments 128a-e.

[0043] With reference to Fig. 12A, in the flat position, the floor 128 is flat and all the segments 128a- e are connected and aligned to share the same plane, thereby forming a flat surface parallel to the top side 118 or the bottom side 124. When the floor 128 is in the flat position, the floor 128 separates the crop container 110 into an upper and a lower portion. The upper portion is used for retaining crops therein and the lower portion defines an interstitial space between the floor 128 and the bottom side 124 for facilitating airflow into and through the upper portion. In some embodiments, the floor 128 is air permeable and allows air to flow into the upper portion from the lower portion. Specifically, the floor 128 may include one or more of a perforated material, mesh, and netting material, and retains the crop contents thereabove. In the flat configuration, the container 110 is suitable for drying and curing crops in the same way as is described above with the crop container 10 of Figs. 1-11.

[0044] With reference to Fig. 12B, when the floor 128 is in a hopper position, a first segment 128b and a second segment 128d, which are the major segments, are positioned at an angle to each other with outer ends 162 at a higher position and closer to the top side 118 than inner ends. In some embodiments, the first and second segments 128b, 128d are separated by a gap that provides access to an interior region of the container, which is substantially the same space as the upper portion. In this hopper configuration, the container 110 can be used for other purposes besides crop drying. [0045] In some embodiments, in addition to the first and second segments 128b, 128d, the floor includes one or more floor reduction members such as middle segment 128c and end segments 128a, 128e. These reduction members form portions of the floor and share a plane with the first and second segments 128b, 128d when the floor is in the flat configuration to form a flat continuous floor, and are removable or separable to place the floor into the hopper configuration. Specifically, removing the middle segment 128c allows the first and second segments 128b, 128d to be separated and provides the gap between the first and second segments 128b, 128d. In some embodiments, removing or separating the end segments 128a, 128e unlocks the first and second segments 128b, 128d from the flat position and provides room to move the first and second segments 128b, 128d into the angled positions illustrated in Fig. 12B. In one or more embodiments, the crop container 110 includes one or more guide features positioned on the two end walls 116, 140 or at least one of the two side walls to guide movement of the first and second segments 128b, 128d of the floor 128 during transition between the flat position and the hopper position. In certain such embodiments, the guide features may include a track, an arm, or any other the other mechanism to guide movement of the first and second segments 128b, 128d along a defined path between the flat position and the hopper or angled positions.

[0046] In some embodiments, the outer ends 162 of the first and second segments 128b, 128d of the floor can be attached at or near upper corners of the container 110 so that the first and second segments 128b, 128d are positioned at an angle Θ relative to the bottom 124 of the container 110. In some embodiments, the angle Θ can be about 31.25 degrees, but any appropriate angle can be used. In one or more embodiments, the first and second segments 128b, 128d may each include an extendable portion 164 that when the first and second segments 128b, 128d of the floor 128 angled, can extend downward and protrude from the bottom 124 of the container 110 to define openings 166 in the bottom 124 of the container 110 and guide downward flow of the contents out of the crop container 110. In certain embodiments, the container 110 further includes angle guides 168 can be used to help further direct the flow of material through the openings 166 if desired. An openable hatch or hatches (not shown) can be positioned in the openings 166 to selectively allow or prevent egress of material from within the container 110 through the openings 166 as desired.

[0047] In the second configuration, the container 110 can be used to carry any appropriate type of material, including, for example, other types of crops during seasons where crops are not being dried. Materials can be loaded into the container 110 through the open top 118, and stored within, with the hatches closed, during transport to a desired location. Thereafter, the hatches can be opened, such as adjacent to a silo, and the material within the container 110 is evacuated through the openings 166. To convert the container 110 into a crop drying mode, the configuration is simply changed from the second configuration back to the first.

[0048] Similar to the crop container 10 of Fig. 8, crop container 110 may also be a part of a crop retention system, which includes the crop container 110 and trailer 56 (Fig. 8). The crop container 110 is positionable on the trailer 56, but is not integral to the trailer 56. Thus, the crop container 110 can be carried by the trailer 56 to be transported between locations, but can be separated from the trailer for stacking or storage. Additionally, the crop container 110 being removable and separable from the trailer is advantageous because it allows the trailer 56 to be used for other applications when not carrying the crop container 10.

[0049] A method of operating the crop container 110, according to one or more embodiments, includes moving a first segment of a floor of the crop retention container between a first flat position and a first angled position, and moving a second segment of the floor between a second flat position and a second angled position. The method may also include removing the middle segment from between the first and second segments 128b, 128d to place the first and second segments 128b, 128d into the angled position from the flat position. The method may also include positioning a hatch in a gap between the first and second segments 128b, 128d in the angled positions. In some embodiments, the crop container 110 can be filled with a first type of crop when the first and second segments 128b, 128d are in the flat position and filled with a second type of crop when the first and second segments 128b, 128d are in the angled positions. Further, the method may include separating the crop container 110 from a trailer and stacking the crop container 110 with another container.

[0050] One advantage to the embodiment of the container 110 shown in Fig. 12 is that it can be used to transport and retain a variety of materials, allowing use of the container 110 all year, and not just during the few months during which certain crops are harvested and dried. This allows economic benefit to be derived from the containers 110 continually, while at the same time abolishing the need to store the containers 110 for large parts of the year. In addition, the advantages of the crop container 10 of Figs. 1-11 apply equally to the embodiment of Fig. 12. That is, the containers 110 can be stacked using forklifts or other means, and can be separate (although this is not required) from the trailers used to haul them.

[0051] Crop containers 10 and 110 may be fabricated by retrofitting existing shipping containers, such as standardized ISO containers.

[0052] Fig. 13 illustrates stacks of crop containers 10, 110 and trailers 56 at a facility. As discussed, the ability to detach the crop containers 10, 110 from the trailers 56 allows both to be stored more efficiently. Furthermore, the ability stack both the crop containers 10, 110 on top of each other and the ability to stack the reduces the trailers 56 on top of each other reduces the footprint of the both the containers 10, 110 and the trailers 56 and thus requires less surface space.

[0053] This application is a PCT application claiming priority to and the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 62/443,500, filed January 6, 2017, titled "Peanut Drying Container," and U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 62/478,411, filed March 29, 2017, titled "Crop Retention Systems, Containers, and Associated Methods," each of which is incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.

[0054] The foregoing disclosure and description of the disclosed embodiments is illustrative and explanatory of the embodiments of the invention. Various changes in the details of the illustrated embodiments can be made within the scope of the appended claims without departing from the true spirit of the disclosure. The embodiments of the present disclosure should only be limited by the following claims and their legal equivalents.