by Bradley Jones, PE, AGCO/GSI, USA


We have all heard the lines 'bigger is better', 'bigger bang for your buck($)' or 'everything is bigger in texas'. But, how do any of these have to do with grain silos? Well, it seems over the years that customers and manufacturers continue to ask for, and receive, bigger and bigger storage capabilities. It is not uncommon to now see a round steel silo that is more than 135' (41m) diameter holding more than one million bushels (35,000 tonnes) of grain.

In 1896, Wisconsin boasted one of the largest silos in the world, measuring in at a whopping 62' diameter by 80' (24m) tall and holding 3228 tonnes of grain. The impressive silo was built using stone covered in plaster, lots of tar-covered lumber and a big wagonload of nails. The cost of construction was US $2400. At the time, one of the leading silo experts said that 'smaller silos are better… it is a mistake to build so large a silo.'

By the 1970's silos were still relatively small, built out of concrete and steel. Things have changed over the years, with grain bins now built primarily out of steel instead of lumber and stone and the size is continuing to increase at a rapid rate. There seems to be a competition among manufacturers to boast 'mine is bigger than yours', thus, providing benefit to the industry and customers as it pushes the industry to be better and encourages innovation. The latest addition in the last few years is the introduction of the 156' diameter silo, storing two million bushels (60,000 tonnes). Very few have tackled the engineering endeavor, an even fewer have proved themselves successful.

AGCO/GSI is the latest grain storage giant to step into the 156' arena. They have been a leader in grain storage silos for decades and move methodically into this new realm of storage. Their analytical designs and extensive research have kept AGCO/GSI at the top of the industry for many years and continues to lead the industry in innovative storage solutions. The winner, in the end, from all of the research and design innovations is the customer and world food supply in general.

The AGCO/GSI latest grain silo design has multiple evolutionary features which improve grain security by leaps and bounds, increasing sustainability by reducing the tonnes of steel required for an extremely strong grain storage bin, while cutting the time spent on erection.

The global food market needs to adequately protect and secure as much harvested grain as possible, as too high a percentage of grain is quantitatively and qualitatively lost… much of it due to poor storage choices. As the world continues to position itself for long term sustainability on numerous fronts, the agriculture community should be the leaders in protecting our soil, our environment and our future.

In the past, if one wanted to store massive amounts of grain, he/she would need to turn to a flat-storage building to accomplish storing 50,000+ tonnes. While flat storage has been the only mega-storage option in the past, the grain losses are less than ideal, generating grain losses of up to 15 percent and the on-site labour requirements can be very high.

However, push the clock forward to today and, now, mega-sized cylindrical steel silos have now emerged on the scene and there is a new more sustainable option available, providing optimal grain preservation. You might ask, why are silos just now getting bigger and bigger? The easy answer is that technology has provided the capability of better tools to properly analyse the huge 3D models necessary to safely engineer these giant structures. A secondary, but equally important aspect, is that the technology surrounding the jacks to erect a large silo have evolved, such that lifting mega silos can be done much more efficiently and safely.

The steel silo industry has once again made its presence known and stepped up to the challenge of providing the world grain market a solution to support the global food supply. So, maybe 'bigger is better' and you will get 'more bang for the buck'. Thinking about a mega grain storage facility, give the steel silo experts a shot. The business analysis shows that cylindrical steel silos are the overall best business value when it comes to grain storage solutions. Check it out for yourself. Everything silos is getting bigger… and not just in Texas.

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