June 12, 2024

System provides continuous monitoring of stored grain

On display at Farm Progress Show

BOONE, Iowa — GrainVue continuously monitors the condition of crops stored in grain bins and controls the aeration system.

“Farmers have to make the decision every day to run the fans or not when they have a crop in a bin,” said Greg Trame, director of technology sales for GSI. “We take that decision out of their hands.”

The system includes digital sensing cables that are installed inside the bin.

“They give us insights for the temperature, moisture and inventory level,” said Trame at the GSI booth at the Farm Progress Show. “There are also sensors outside of the bin that are monitoring the temperature and humidity of the outside air.”

After a bin is filled with grain, the farmer tells the system what he is trying to do — dry the grain, cool the grain or manage it for safe storage.

“It also provides the ability to re-hydrate a crop like soybeans,” Trame said. “Getting beans that were harvested at 9% moisture to 10% to 12% is a significant return on investment.”

GrainVue is a cloud-based system, so farmers can interact with the data on any web-enabled device, wherever they are located.

“For example, if they are trying to dry a crop, the system is going to look for the right weather conditions outside when the air will dry the crop rather than the farmer making the decision,” Trame said.

“The system turns the fan on and the beauty is that happens 24 hours a day, seven days a week rather than just the time when a farmer thinks about it,” he said.

“GrainVue is always on, always looking, always making the decision to turn the fan on to help achieve the target and then as soon as the weather conditions change and the target is no longer in the specs they want, the fan is turned off,” Trame said.

“We take the decision-making process completely out of their hands so they can focus on the 10 other things they need to be doing every day and not have to worry about the crop they put in the bin,” he said.

Farmers can choose from several different modes in GrainVue.

“The most basic mode is remote control which allows farmers to start and stop their fans from wherever they are,” Trame said. “We provide the data and the farmer makes the decision yes or no to turn the fan on.”

For an automation control mode, the farmer sets the window for temperature and humidity for when they want the fan to run.

“This requires the farmer to make adjustments as the crop is drying,” Trame said.

Two smart modes — Smart Drying and Smart Storage — are available in GrainVue.

“For Smart Drying, the farmer inputs the end result such as moisture at 15%,” Trame said. “Anytime the conditions are correct, it not only runs the fans, but also adjusts the parameters as the crop dries down to 15%.”

The Smart Storage mode works in a similar way, by adjusting the temperature of the crop instead of the moisture.

“You can set it and forget it, but that’s not something I recommend to growers,” Trame said. “The last thing you should do is take the crop you worked all year to grow, throw it in your bin and never look at it again.”

Farmers still need to actively manage their grain, he said, but the GrainVue system simplifies the process.

“You can pull out your phone and in two minutes check on all your bins and see that everything is working like it should be,” he said. “Or, there might be an issue so then you can go take a closer look.”

One of the most challenging periods for grain storage is the transition from winter to spring.

“You have cold grain in a bin and warm temperatures outside,” Trame said. “Plus spring is a busy time for farmers trying to get the crop planted so they tend to forget about the grain in the bins.”

GrainVue can be installed in any brand of bin.

“It takes about one day to install the system and the sensing cables that hang from the top to the bottom of the bin must be installed with the bins are empty,” Trame said.

Monitoring equipment on the top of the bin read the cables and wirelessly transmit the information to the communications gateway.

“There is one cellular communications gateway per farm that communicates information to the data cloud,” Trame said.

“The fan control hardware is mounted at the ground level, there is a weather station for accurate temperature and humidity and the sensor beneath the aeration floor monitors the air conditions under the floor,” he said. “There is a yearly subscription fee to cover the cellular cost and data hosting of $200 per year per bin.”

Farmers are ready to take the automation step for their grain bins, Trame said.

“As farms are becoming bigger and more complicated, a lot of them have bin sites spread across an area and it’s hard to get to all of them,” he said. “This product really helps them, plus more and more farmers don’t want to be in the Midwest during the winter.”

“Now you can have a million bushels of crop in bins and watch those bins from wherever you are at,” Trame said. “GrainVue solves a pretty big pain point for farmers.”

Martha Blum

Martha Blum

Field Editor