How Do Grain Silos Work?

March 20, 2021
steel silos

Grain silos are more than just large tanks where farmers keep their collected grain. There’s a lot that goes into the design of any given model to make sure that it accommodates various post-production processes and treatments. 

So while these iconic structures do indeed store grain and offer a majestic aesthetic feature to a farming landscape, they’re also involved in many more aspects of the food production and handling process than just storing grains alone. We explore how grain silos work and the different structures, materials and components you might need to consider as part of your next grain silo construction. 

Silo Types

The first thing that comes to mind when you think of a grain silo might be a tall cylindrical tower that looms over a small production or processing facility, however, there are many different types of silos and within each structure and design, you can find various different features and modifications that are made to support the processes a farm or grain manufacturer. 

For example, some silos are more horizontal than vertical and don’t come with the same towering structure that most people associate with grain silos. Also, grain silos can be broadly distinguished into two categories:  

  • Open to the atmosphere silos – These silos are open at the top with an easy-to-remove cover that allows for easy air flow to the storage area. Grain is unload from the top through an unloading chute.
  • Oxygen-limiting silos – Also known as controlled atmosphere silos, these designs limit the amount of oxygen in the silo and replace the internal atmosphere with an injection of nitrogen or carbon dioxide. With this design, grains are usually unloaded through a system at the bottom.

Steel silos for grain storage are the most common choice for better performance, durability and easier maintenance, but many siloes were traditionally made from concrete. If you get in touch we can explain how our materials and components can contribute to better silo performance. 

Loading Systems

A machine called an auger is usually relied on to transport grain within a silo system and from the system to its next destination. Because of the scale of grain being managed, it’s incredibly important for it to be carefully modified to assist in the handling process.

Vertical elevators can be used to fill grain silos or an inclined auger converter system can be used. Just keep in mind that the design you choose will affect your work efficiency and processes. For instance, the taller a silo is, the less practical it is to have a non-vertical conveying system.

Farmers should work with expert manufacturers to design silos that are designed to suit the needs of the facility while working to budget constraints. The underlying principle in silo production is that each model should make the lives of farmer and handlers easier.

Temperature Maintenance

It is important to control the temperature and moisture of silos in order to protect the quality of the grain. This also helps to prevent contamination of the grain and ultimately guarantees the value and profitability of the stored grain. 

When handling huge quantities of grain, temperature variation requires advanced solutions to aerate and cool the silo and reduce moisture. This also reduces the chance of insect infection and offers your products a longer shelf-life. 

Unloading Systems

Most silos use gravity to let grain flow from the top of the silo and out through an opening at the bottom near the center. This is a simple concept but a lot more thought must go into the design when you’re talking about vast quantities of grain and considering the safety of your workers as an utmost priority.

For instance, the pressure and physical stress on the system caused by large volumes of grain on the exit window of a silo must be factored into the design so that product can seamlessly flow through the opening rather than get dangerously clogged or congested.

A machine called an auger is usually used to transport the grain from within the silo to a vehicle or another grain storage facility. This auger must be designed to seamlessly work with the silo system. If you want to learn more about different auger types and unloading systems you can get in touch with us at RNT Tanks.

Additional Considerations

Silos must be completely sound, robust and efficient pieces of equipment that work seamlessly within a more holistic handling and management system. 

If the metal becomes corroded, or the silo is built on uneven ground, this can all impact the way it works and the eventual quality of your grain. To prevent your product from becoming spoiled and to ensure the safety of your facility and workers, it’s vital to work with experts when commissioning steel silos for grain storage

Get in touch today to discuss your storage needs!
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