Characteristics needed to build a temporary grain storage pile

A grain storage pile can be constructed as either a short-term or long-term storage facility, depending upon whether a grain aeration system is included. Aeration is a necessary component of a grain storage structure to successfully manage grain, so it can be stored for long periods of time. The steps below outline the basics of constructing a covered, grain storage pile system.

  1. Determine the amount of grain that needs to be stored. Then select the storage capacity needed as well as the geometric dimensions, including the area and depth at the wall.
  2. Choose a site that is well-drained and relatively flat where all surface water drains away.
  3. You should have at least a 4- to 6-inch-thick, well-drained granular base or concrete pad to construct the floor or base. If you're uncertain about soil moisture moving up into the grain, install a vapor barrier — such as a 6-mil plastic sheet layer — to minimize moisture movement from soil to grain.
  4. If you want to include walls, they can be constructed using:
    • Large concrete blocks (2 feet by 2 feet by 4–8 feet long) with a maximum height of three blocks, or 6 feet high, because the weight of the blocks is enough to not tip over if the grain height is less than 6 feet.
    • Concrete road barriers can be used to develop perimeter walls, but the grain depth at the wall is limited to height of the road barrier.
    • Commercially available temporary wall barriers can be used as the perimeter walls of the storage pile. Consult with the manufacturer for installation details and limitations.
  5. After filling, cover the pile with tarp(s) to protect it from rainwater.

Aerating grain piles

Installing pile aeration allows for a longer grain storage period, and the aeration suction helps hold tarp(s) on the pile. Pile aeration system options include:

  • Commercially available wall barrier systems that often incorporate fans and wall inlets for aeration.
  • Pipe duct aeration systems, which present challenges with grain removal operations because pipes must be moved as grain is removed.

Detailed information to design aeration systems for grain storages is found in the “Dry Grain Aeration Systems Design Handbook (MWPS-29)" from MidWest Plan Service.