July 23, 2024

Grain storage research ready for fall

PONTIAC, Ill. — A grain storage system designed to add more research capabilities at the Precision Technology Institute farm is anticipated to be online for harvest this fall.

The fully-functioning grain storage, drying and handling facility for use on the PTI farm includes four storage bins, a hopper bottom wet bin, a tower with a wet and dry leg, a drive-over receiving pit with an overhead load-out tank above it, and a conveyor across the top of the bins.

Jeff Cravens, GSI director North America of grain dealer sales — east, said there are theories about harvest yield loss, machine losses from head shatter, and other factors that impact crop production beyond what happens in the field during the growing season.

“Those are the things we really want to measure and put some data behind for our own benefit to see if farmers can add profitability to a farm,” said Cravens at a recent PTI Summer Session.

“What gains are you going to see? Do those gains still outweigh the cost of fuel for drying the grain? We can measure that here now.”

The system features four bins with a capacity of about 12,000 to 13,000 bushels each for segregation of both research and for the multiple owners of the farmland that encompasses PTI. A wet bin for the drying is a 10,000-bushel hopper tank with a 14-foot basket.

Beyond the obvious steel, the grain storage system features the latest technology with Programmable Logic Controller for automation to move grains, turn-on equipment and other automated features.

“It’s all touch screen with electric gates on a lot of things. The receiving pit automatically kicks on. As soon as grain hits the pit, there’s a sensor in there that kicks it on and starts pulling grain away,” Cravens said.

“The dryer fills a choke-fill system, so it doesn’t matter whether you’re receiving grain or not receiving grain, the grain will go to the wet bin or the dryer when you’re dumping a truck, the overflow system will accommodate that.

“All the unloads come to a common conveyer which goes back to an under-bin conveyor to go back and catch the dry leg. From there, we can go back to a different bin or to the overhead to load-out.”


GSI’s new GrainVue system interconnects the facility to a web browser platform. The system is designed to meet the needs of the research site that include nearly 160 research trials across 400 acres.

“For a while now, we’ve had a WatchDog system on our dryer where you could remote monitor and control your dryer from that. We can do the same thing with a GrainVue, and it’s all going to a web browser platform — GSI Connect,” Cravens said.

With the GSI Connect app, farmers will be able to remotely control almost all functions of the dryer as if they were standing there directly in front of it.

The new GSI Connect mobile app is intended to optimize the quality and profitability of dried grain, with plans to connect customers to their entire grain system.

The app allows farmers to monitor their dryer’s performance with near real-time information to help farmers minimize risk, improve drying consistency and provide savings on operational costs. Farmers will be able to connect up to three portable modules and up to six fans.

With the GSI Connect app, farmers will be able to remotely see the same information and control almost all functions of the dryer as if they were standing there directly in front of it. The app will send alerts if there’s a shutdown or error with the dryer.

“You can log into your system so you can see your farm. Everything you have a system on will be visible to you. You can run the system, change set points in your bin, start your fans, all of those things just like you’re here,” Cravens said.

“The dryer has the same functionality. You can change the set point to your dryer, moisture set point, unload grain, set temperatures, all the things you could do standing right there at the dryer.”

Digital Sensing

“Digital sensing cables run from the top to the bottom of the bins’ centers to monitor temperature, moisture and inventory levels. Nodes are spaced equally so many feet and they don’t read until the grain covers them,” Cravens said.

“All ours are cellular-bases systems, so there’s no Wi-Fi needed. We find it to be the most reliable.

“The data collected is sent to Amazon Web Services and that comes back down to your browser platform so you can see, for example, the grain is 56 degrees and has a 14.8% moisture content. The prescription fees come in to cover that cellular data transmission and Amazon Web Services.”

Tom Doran

Tom C. Doran

Field Editor