Pros and Cons of Grain Storage Silos

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There are a lot of decisions that factor into which grain storage solution you will select go ahead with. Climate, resources, timeframe and your specific commercial situation will factor into whether you choose to invest in a silo, or instead go for a bunker, storage shed or storage bag. This article will reveal a few of the pros and cons that come into the equation when you’re looking at investing in a grain storage silo, which can help you make a more informed decision.

Advantages

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Less ground space

Being significantly taller than other grain storage options, silos hold the same amount of grain in a much smaller area in terms of land. The land is obviously quite expensive so there is an added economic incentive here in terms of the savings you can make on ground space required. Even if you have space, using a silo can free it up for other purposes.

Greater control

Having your grain centralised in one location means you are able to control its conditions much more easily and effectively. Keeping your grain at a certain temperature and free of insects and pests can help you keep your grain in an optimal state over the long term. Aeration in a tightly sealed silo is a simple, straightforward process once the infrastructure is in place, and ensures that populations of pests are kept to a minimum.

Compare this to smaller storage bins that are spread out across a property, where controlling things like temperature and pests is a more intensive job.

Loading and depositing

For many of the same reasons as mentioned above, collecting and transporting grain to and from a silo is significantly cheaper and more efficient compared to the alternatives. With the help of a relatively cheap grain vacuum or auger, for example, grain can be both taken out of and put into the silo quite quickly. This can reduce owner and labour costs.

Longevity

A well maintained, air-tight grain silo can last several decades or more, providing the ideal conditions for your grain through this period. When we’re talking about a structure of this size, it goes without saying that a stringent maintenance schedule is necessary to keep it trucking along for longer. But even before major repairs are required, some silos will last upwards of 25+ years.

Disadvantages

Large initial investment

Like with high capacity machines and systems in just about any industry, there is a cost that comes with the benefits discussed above. While this is no doubt the most cost effective and economical means of storing and delivering large quantities of grain over a long timeframe, the short term investment is going to be high.

This makes silos appropriate for well-established grain farmers that have a long-term business plan going forward, rather than players that are feeling out the industry or still learning the ropes.

Better options for short term storage

If you’re planning on storing grain for a shorter time period, there are more efficient and cheaper ways to do so. Under certain circumstances, grain storage bags may be a better option, particularly if you’re storing the grain for less than 3 months. While there are certainly other weaknesses that come with this method, they are relatively inexpensive, quick to fill and require less infrastructure and capital investment.

Safety risks

Given their great height (some reach up to 80 meters or more), there are obvious safety risks that need to be considered. While you or your staff won’t often be required to climb so high, inspecting the silo every few months will require a view from the top. Precautions need to be made and many silos are quite safe to climb, but the risk is certainly still there and certain Worksafe requirements need to be met.

As discussed in the article, there are clear advantages that come from storing grain in a silo and all things considered this is the most ideal solution. Of course this depends on your specific circumstances, so always take the time to consider your options and chat with an expert to get the right advice.