The Difference Between Grain Bins and Silos

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Grain Bins and Silos

Is that a bin, or is that a silo? What’s the difference between the two structures?

A silo serves sort of like a coffee thermos: tall, skinny, seals tight and holds moisture. Silos often are blue or the color of concrete. They traditionally store silage, which is grass or other fodder harvested green and wet, primarily to feed dairy cattle.

Bins are vented, silver, corrugated steel structures fatter in diameter than silos and have varying heights. They generally store dry corn and soybeans, which meet domestic or export market demand for feed, food and fuel use.

11 Comments

  1. ankit sharma

    July 16, 2013 at 5:20 am

    what is min and max capacity both of storage structures
    in silos can we store wheat?

  2. Jamie Holland

    November 15, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    They can be distinguished by both size and shape as well as what they are used to store. A silo is typically used for storing grain or silage while a bin usually holds dry matter.

  3. Deanna R. Jones

    January 23, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    I always drive by a farming community that has both grain bins and silos. I’ve always wondered about the difference between the two. Now I know that silos are the tall skinny structures, and grain bins are the corrugated steel structures that store corn and soybeans. Other than corn and soybeans, what other dried commodities are typically stored in grain bins? It seems like they could be used to be stored a lot more types of grains and dried goods. Thanks for the information!
    http://www.casindustries.com/products.htm

    • MARK WIEDERGREEN

      September 18, 2016 at 9:44 am

      Grain bins can also store milo(sorghum), wheat, oats any small grain as well

  4. James Bergman

    May 18, 2016 at 11:39 am

    Thanks for clarifying the difference between silos and bins. I grew up in rural farming communities but always thought that all of the storage facilities were silos. If I am understanding correctly, silos are used to store wet fodder while bins are for the dry stuff? http://www.mnmillwright.com/products

  5. Stacey Trame

    July 7, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    If grain bins are different because of the construction materials (being made of corrugated steel)…what were they made of back before that material was readily available?

    • Dave Kauffman

      August 10, 2016 at 10:36 am

      Wood, and were part of a timber frame barn. They were called a “granary”.

  6. Johnny A

    November 21, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    So are the structures in the photo bins or silos? I am guessing bins.

  7. john Mahoney

    December 7, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    I didn’t know that unlike silos, bins are vented and have varying heights. I will make sure to look more into this as I look for ways to store grain. Thank you for the clarification and the time you took to write this.

  8. JOHN

    August 4, 2017 at 10:42 pm

    I would imagine the views from the top of these taller silos is amazing. Much more rewarding than that of say a 27 story building in a city.
    On my bucket list now, “View from midwestern Silo”

  9. Deb

    August 21, 2017 at 10:46 am

    Is it true that silos are used less frequently today, than say, 30 years ago? As I recall, most silos were used for the feeding of a personal family farm herd, while granaries — grain bins — can facilitate feeding many more animals and in the making of other bi-products, as well as exported grain to feed overseas livestock, am I correct in thinking this?

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