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Grain bins vs silos

All farms across the province have various pieces of equipment, buildings, and structures that contribute to their daily operations. You may have noticed two tall structures on farms: grain bins and silos. These two structures look similar, but did you know that grain bins and silos aren’t the same thing? In fact, grain bins are the structures that are primarily used by Ontario grain farmers.

While the cylindrical shape may make these two structures appear to be the same, they are more different than they are alike. Grain bins generally hold grain until it is time for them to be shipped out to be processed or sold off the farm. Silo’s will hold products until they are ready to be fed to the livestock on the farm.

Grain bins are typically made of a smooth, shiny metal and store dry grains grown on Ontario farms. The grain bins are generally short and wide compared to a silo. Grain bins can be found on grain farms and elevator operations and are essential to keep the grains dry and free of pests, other seeds and dirt. Grain bins do this by providing a sealed space for storing the grains where nothing can get in, such as rain. Grain bins are the best way to keep the grains in the best quality possible, before they are sent off to be used for food, fuel, or animal feed!

Silos are often taller, narrower, made of concrete, and built to store wet products, primarily products that are used to feed farm animals. Haylage and silage (made from corn!) are types of feed that are stored in silos and can be used to feed beef and dairy cattle. These structures are airtight and allow the product to go through the fermentation stages before it can be fed to animals. Silage fermentation is when the sugars in the silage get converted into acid to reach optimal feed quality and preserve the silage. This normally takes about three weeks. You may also see other types of silos such as a bunker silo, which is long and rectangular and built on the ground.   

Both grain bins and silos play a very important role on farms across Ontario. On some farms you may even see both structures, but on many Ontario grain farms you will see grain bins. Storing grains in grin bins is a step in the process of growing grains and serves a very important purpose of keeping them safe and usable!