Whether you are a grain farmer, a grain buyer, grain marketing experts like us here at Grainwise, or even those whose grain knowledge extends only as far as the cereal products located in morning breakfast bowls, most of us have at least driven past a grain silo.
With large, imposing cylindrical constructions, often towering over regional townships, some even painted in striking art works depicting local farming legends and scenes from famous artworks thanks to the popularity of the silo art trail, silos are part of many rural landscapes and are a staple utility on any grain farm in regions spanning the breadth of Australia.
But what are they used for? How do they work?
Well, just like the art that often adorns these structures, filling a grain silo is an art form that even the most experienced farmers often get wrong. We take a look at silo usage on farms and explain the process of how to fill a grain silo.
The origin of the grain silo
Grain Silo’s were first used thousands of years ago, for the same purpose they are today, to store and protect from the elements, assets such as grain. Archaeological ruins, and texts depict those silos were used in Ancient Greece, as well as in other parts of the world, as for back as the late 8th century BC.
Given the Greek origins behind silo’s it makes sense that the word silo is also derived from the Greek language, with ‘silo’ translating to ‘pit for holding grain’.
Grain Silo’s – What are they and what is their purpose?
The use and purpose of grain silos in the grain farming process is to store excess grain product, that can be used and or sold at a future date. Depending upon variety and storage conditions, grain can be kept in silo’s for between 2-3 years, which has the advantage for growers of holding grain until prices are at a premium, ensuring they receive the biggest profits. Silos are also relatively cheap in terms of construction and maintenance costs, making them a very attractive storage solution for gain growers.
What types of grain silos are the most popular?
Silos that are cylindrical in nature are frequently seen dotting the landscape in farming communities. These structures are made from a variety of materials including, concrete, metal, bricks and in particularly well aged silos, they can also be constructed from timber.
Whilst cylindrical silos are common, silos can also be square or trapezoid in shape, some having a flat bottom, other having a hopper bottom, and come in both large or small sizing. The right silo in terms of grain farming, will depend upon the individual farms storage requirements, the size of their crop and the yield. Tall, tower style silos were extremely popular approximately 40 years ago, with todays farmers tending to move towards horizontal silos.
So, how do you fill a grain silo?
Grain Silo’s despite their consistent use in farming operations over the years, are still today very simple structures, with minimal technological advances have occurred over this time. Filling a grain silo is therefore a relatively simple process and requires an auger.
An auger, which is a large metal tube that is positioned between a truck, and a silo, feeding grain from the truck to the silo opening via its rotating technology. Augers come in various sizes, with swing away augers, transport augers and specific grain belts some of the options that are readily used by farmers. Positioning the auger in the correct position can be tricky, as the grain will not flow into the silo should the auger be positioned incorrectly.
Once your auger is positioned correctly and is operational the grain will flow through the auger from the truck into the silo, filling the silo.
Are there any other options?
Augers are certainly the most popular option, when it comes to grain farming and filling a grain silo, however there is another option, namely grain legs or a grain bucket. Grain legs or grain bucks operate by pulling grain through a vertical elevator in a bucket, with the bucket dropping the grain into a tube that is fed directly into the silo.
This method whilst safer than an auger, primarily due to the auger having a series of rotating parts which can pose hazards and risks to growers, augers are able to fill a grain silo more efficiently.
Is filling a grain silo safe?
It is no secret that farming, including grain farming can be risky business, and like all farming operations and processes, filling a grain silo does not come without its safety risks. As most farmers are aware operating machinery such as an auger to fill a silo should only be performed by an experienced operator, in order to minimise risk. Additionally, equipment should always be regularly maintained and tested to ensure both safety and effective operation.
How Grainwise can help.
The Grainwise team, as experienced grain brokers are fully aware of the important decisions that grain farmers make in terms of logistical operations on their farms. Our team are experts when it comes to grain logistics and Grainwise Logistics Services can certainly take out some of the guesswork associated with filling, maintaining and sourcing grain storage facilities, such as silos.
We specialise in marketing plans for a variety of crops. With a marketing plan customised to your unique business, we can help reduce your peak period risk and contribute to year-round sales. We assist with and monitor logistics to ensure that deliveries are made to meet contract terms and during high demand periods, we work with you to source new logistic providers and to provide storage solutions, where needed. Our success is your success, and our team are happy to assist in any way we can to ensure continued profitability for your grain faming enterprise. If you need further information on farm storage solutions, such as grain silos, please Contact Us and discuss your grain farming storage options with one of our experienced grain brokers today.