Building Storm-Resistant Grain Bins: What You Need to Know
As a farmer, you know the critical role grain bins play in your operation’s success. Protecting your grain from damaging elements like moisture and pests allows you to market it when you want to.
But not all grain bins are the same. We saw that after two derechos hit South Dakota the summer of 2022.
“We were fortunate to have all Summit-built grain bins withstand those storms,” says Jerad Hutchens, Vice President at Summit Contracting in Platte, SD. “The difference with our bins is that we always build a stiffened bin.”
Building storm-resistant grain bins
Stiffened grains bins are built using vertical stiffeners on the outside of the bin. This transfers the bin’s vertical load directly to the foundation, which results in less stress on the sidewalls.
“Structurally, stiffened bins are proven to stand against 105 mph winds,” Hutchens says. “But we have actually seen them withstand past that.”
Hutchens explains that Summit also builds their concrete pads with extra thickness and wider footings to ensure their anchor bolts are secured in the strongest place.
Summit has built stiffened bins throughout South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota and North Dakota.
“To date, we have not lost a complete structure,” Hutchen says.
Inspecting grain bins after a storm
If your farm is hit by a storm, you will need to inspect your grain system for damage. Hutchens advises always using caution around storm-struck bins.
“Bins can be fairly unstable after storms. Watch for bins starting to lean. If there is any question at all, call us to help with the inspection.” Leaning bins, especially ones filled with grain, can shift and go down in a moment’s notice.
If your bins look safe to approach, inspect them for the following:
Dents in the roof or side walls
Secure anchor bolts
Secure attachment to the concrete pad
Damage to the roof ring clips or pipes
Gaps or anything pulling apart
Change in shape
When a bin loses its original shape, it often takes on an egg-like shape. To check for this, Hutchens says, “See if there are any gaps between the side wall sheets and the door. Another place to check for gaps is under the roof eve.”
Cleaning up grain structures after a severe storm
When dealing with clean up after a severe storm, Hutchens again advises exercising caution. Especially if it involves a damaged grain bin or grain system.
“These are big heavy structures that have been engineered to stand straight up. If things are tipped or out of round, it is a high risk situation.”
According to Hutchens, for this type of clean up it is best to call Summit: “We have the right equipment to safely pull damaged structures down. We have cranes, excavators, heavy loaders, side dumps, and we have operators who are experienced in that field.”
Additional grain bin safety tips
Whether a bin is damaged or not, it can be dangerous regardless. For grain bin safety, Hutchens says to:
Teach children to stay away from bins.
Never enter a bin that has grain in it.
If you must enter, have a spotter.
Practice lockout tagout procedures.
Summit has previously shared on the topic of grain bin safety during Grain Bin Safety Week. You can read this article at buildsummit.com.
Protecting your grain is crucial to your farming success, and building strong grain bins is a key part of that. At Summit, we believe using stiffened grain bins and reinforced concrete pads can help withstand severe storms and prevent damage.
But, it’s important to remember that grain bins can be unstable after a storm. Always use caution when inspecting or cleaning them up. By keeping these tips in mind and prioritizing safety, you can market your grain when you want to while also ensuring the well-being of those on your farm. Stay safe out there!