What Type of Agricultural Silo is Right for You

Posted by Ken Brakefield

Topics: Silo

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Silos ensure your farm meets its bulk storage needs, helping in the storage of grains and fermented feeds. Silos also come in handy in the storage of alternative fuel sources such as solid animal waste for biogas production. When selecting a silo, you can either choose a vertical or horizontal silo depending on your farm’s needs.

Vertical Silos

Vertical silos come in circular or orthogonal shapes; the material you choose for fabrication depends on your farm’s needs and the weather in your area. Silos often take up more sky space, and come with a customizable diverging funnel flow cone at the bottom to handle any type of load.

Common materials used in the fabrication of vertical silos include anti-ware materials such as stainless steel, concrete and carbon steel plates. Depending on the size and application of your silo, you can choose from a variety of containers for assembling at your farm or commission the fabricators to deliver a single complete unit or start the construction from scratch on your farm if for a custom-made silo.

Vertical silos come with different accessories such as bag filters, level detectors, manholes, pneumatic transport, vibrating bottoms, extracting augers, bars or needle gates and apron weigh feeders among others. Present your short and long-term silo use to your fabricator to ensure you get all the accessories you require to meet your farms storage needs.

Applications of vertical silos include:

  1. Storage of highly humid and sticky materials
  2. Storage of powdered and granulated materials in their raw form or as part of the finished product
  3. Storage of abrasives like cement especially when there is a huge construction project on the farm

Under vertical silos, you can choose from two types of silos to suit your needs as follows:

Open Top Silos

Open top silos often come in concrete; you can install them through pre-casting or cast them in place (pouring). Often, they contain an open top or an easy-to-remove cover and mainly use the top un-loader. Open top silos help in the storage of weather resistant material or material than needs a constant flow of fresh air.

Oxygen-limited Silos

The main materials in the construction of oxygen limiting silos include steel and concrete, with the steel units featuring bolted panes of glass fused to steel. Some units contain galvanized steel with some type of interior lining to protect from corrosion by silage acids. Most oxygen-limited silos come with a bottom un-loader and offer airtight storage, allowing for long-term storage of materials susceptible to weather changes. They also protect material from contamination by external elements.

Horizontal Silos

Horizontal silos take up a lot of ground space and come with a mechanic extraction system or the walking floor, placed underneath the silo to help in the removal of stored material. The extraction system offers a wide range of speeds to suit any application. Horizontal silos are best suited to medium capacity storage needs.

Just like vertical silos, horizontal silos require anti-ware materials for fabrication, with steel as the most popular raw material. Their installation allows for placement away from direct heat, and in underground spaces. Accessories available with horizontal silos include warm gear, lumps breakers, explosion panels, silo weighing, under/over pressure security, apron weigh feeders, needle gates, bag filters and vibrating bottoms among others.

Applications of horizontal silos include:

  1. Storage in environments with low height availability
  2. Storage of highly sticky and humid materials
  3. Storage of fuel substitute materials such as solid waste, YSW urban, CAS Biomass and WDF waste derived fuels among others

There are three types of horizontal silos to suit your farm needs as follows:

Bunker Silos

The term bunker refers to silos built above the natural grade line, often with concrete walls to hold in the material. They also contain airtight plastic tarp covers to protect the silage and/or other materials. Tractors and loaders often help in the loading and offloading of bunker silos.  

Trench Silos

When building a trench silo (or the pit silo), you dig a hole ‘trench’ into the ground below the natural grade line with a concrete or wooden wall to hold in the materials. You can install a plastic tarp, concrete or steel cover to keep your material airtight and free from contamination.

Stack Silos

The term refers to a silage piling system with no structural walls to hold the material. Stack silos come in handy when you need quick storage for short periods. They are highly susceptible to extreme weather conditions and contamination.

A silo is a huge financial and space investment; consider your short and long-term goals, your expansion plans and external factors that may affect your storage needs. Discuss your plans with a seasoned fabricator, and include other experts on the farm before committing to the construction of a silo.

We have designed and fabricated state of the art equipment and we are committed to meet our client's needs. Visit our website swantonweld.com to see some of our amazing works. You can also contact us at 419-826-4816 or email us at info@swantonweld.com and let us know how we can assist you.

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Topics: Silo