The Difference Between Grain Bins and Silos Illinois Farm Bureau Partners The Difference Between Grain Bins and Silos Illinois Farm Bureau Partners

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?

These two structures are can be commonly mistaken, however, they each serve a different purpose. It starts with what they each store. Grain bins generally store dry corn and soybeans, which meet domestic or export market demand for feed, food and fuel use. Silos traditionally store silage, which is grass or other fodder harvested green and wet, primarily to feed dairy cattle.

See more: How Do Combines Work? (VIDEO)

These two structures also look very different. Grain bins are metal cylinders with peaked metal roofs that typically have staircases or ladders on the outside. They are vented, silver, corrugated steel structures fatter in diameter than silos and have varying heights.

Silos are also cylindrical, but are commonly made of concrete, bricks, metal, and sometimes even wood. Their tops are usually dome-shaped, and they tend to be narrower and taller than grain bins. Grain bins are commonly found on grain farms or at elevators, whereas silos are at farms with cattle. Next time you spot these structures, will you know the difference?

grain bin or silo


  1. ankit sharma says:

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

  2. 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 says:

    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!

  4. James Bergman says:

    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?

  5. Stacey Trame says:

    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?

  6. Johnny A says:

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

  7. john Mahoney says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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?

  10. Mohammed A. Swaray says:

    Between the two, which one is more efficient in storing wheat?

  11. Charles E. Bosse says:

    This is all very interesting to me. I’d love to try being a farmer. I know it’s a lot of work, but I think it’s something I’d really enjoy. Thank you.

  12. Mmakwakhe Mtsweni says:

    i want to Stsrt a Silo and Bins Business.

    Please advice on the steps to take

  13. Anna Davis says:

    Thanks for explaining that while grain bins store things like corn and soybeans, silos typically store cattle food like grass. I live in a fairly rural area, and I have always been curious about the farming industry. This information will be particularly useful if I ever decide to start my own farm someday.

  14. Rebecca Gardner says:

    Thanks for explaining that grain silos are usually taller and narrower than grain bins are. According to my knowledge, it’s a good idea to have a flow aide device such an air cannon if you choose to go with a grain silo. This will make sure you can easily deal with any blockages or low-flow areas that develop in the silo.

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