Smooth-Walled Bins: Not Just for Grain Anymore

- Rob Reimer

The smooth-walled bin. The concept might seem simple enough, but it’s important to really understand what it is and its benefits. It’s a fixture of the seed industry, but it’s worth noting its evolution over the years and what it looks like today.

First, some history. As grain production ramped up in the 20th century, the need for grain storage increased along with it. As grain elevator storage became harder to come by, farmers had to invest in efficient on-farm storage. Two types of bins would emerge for permanent storage — corrugated and smooth-walled. They would go on to be used for more than just grain, becoming integral for seed and fertilizer storage as well.

While corrugated bins would be cheaper to buy, smooth-walled bins have emerged as the superior choice. Essentially, a smooth-walled bin is a welded bin used mainly for grain, seed, or fertilizer storage. All bins are designed and engineered for the product being stored.

Powder coating is essential for good grain storage, and multi-purpose bins for fertilizer are also powder-coated on the inside to prevent rusting. Quality powder coated smooth-walled bins have excellent resale value, and can be purchased as an investment.

While a bin might sound like a simple piece of equipment, it is anything but. Powder coating ensures that a bin will be both visually appealing and durable. The paint should be backed by a good warranty — five years being the new industry standard.

Of course, what happens on the inside of a bin is just as crucial as the quality of its exterior. They are excellent for natural drying of grain using vertical aeration, and are generally the first storage bins that get filled on the farm, as they are easy to load and unload without any shoveling. They clean out completely without any hang-ups, which makes them popular in the seed industry.

Technology has come a long way — I have had the pleasure of being involved in the development of an internal venting solution that allows airflow in the bin, and also eliminates any snow or moisture entering the bin at the top. This has been instrumental for helping seed companies protect the temperature and quality of the seed.

This type of bin has evolved over the years — a 20-foot diameter bin that holds up to 10,700 bushels can now be found on the market.

The smooth-walled bin is a piece of technology like any other, and it will continue to evolve as time goes on and industry needs change.