Realistically, I think a lot of us inherit bin site designs with the yards we live on, or the land we rent. Rare is the event to be able to set up an entire bin site from scratch, although I drive by several absolutely beautiful bin site designs on my drive home from MN to MB. Here is looking at you, Wilwand Farms - Pembina, ND (seriously beautiful bin sites for those travel I29 or ND55).
However, over time, there are improvements that can be made that improve farm safety for existing bin sites and for new bin site establishment.
1. Electricity (or in Manitoba, Hydro)
Bury your lines. Overhead is a risk for tall equipment, lifted hoists and equipment in transport mode. I remember our school bus getting hung up when the vents were open on one yard. Keep everyone safe, and away from electricity.
2. Turning radius
Bin sites that are inherited likely did not take semis into account. At Deer Creek Farms, that meant taking down one of the outbuildings, and widening the shale patch where the bins are located to enable easy access in and out.
3. Leave space for expansion
Yields continue to expand, and marketing options are as well. Having space for your crop may mean storage expansion in the future. Consider where your next 2-5 bins would go if/when they make sense financially. Is there room at your current site, or sites, or will you have to start a new bin site? Would there be enough room if your augers get longer to accommodate larger bins?
Your bins are like a store's inventory. When you walk into the grocery store the next time, take a look at how many cameras there are at 1) the front door, 2) throughout the store and 3) at the checkouts. Do you have that tight of security on your bin site? Grain inventory is a farmer's future income; if you are storing your income, it makes sense to plan and design to protect it. Make sure you have considered the physical security of your site, and how you can monitor it. We have all read the horror stories of grain theft, and I had a boss at work who always told me "don't be the story". Consider how you can "not be the story". If you need ideas on security vendors, or ideas of what you can do, we'd be happy to suggest a few vendor based on your situation and location you can email either of us, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
We are definitely not experts on bin layout/design and there are certainly specialists in systems design if you are able to start from scratch or can invest in expertise. These tips are based on our research and what we have experienced, so take the for what they are worth. If you have tips as to what you have seen as successful or vendors you would recommend comment below or on any of our social media accounts: IG @farmfemmes or FB @farmfemmes.