There’s an old television commercial where a spokesman says he tried a product and liked it so much he bought the company. That happens more often than you might think. It happened recently in agriculture, when GSI announced it had acquired 151 Research, a Winnipeg, Manitoba-based technology firm.
The firm developed GrainViz, an innovative way to “see” grain in a bin and monitor moisture, quality and quantity, and Agco unit GSI has exclusive rights to bring the tech to market. This acquisition expands the potential for tech development, including more opportunities for the new solution. Jon Peterson, Agco senior manager, global branding and communication, grain and protein, explains that this innovation was a driver in the purchase, “but it’s about so much more than that; as the GSI brand, we are moving from a manufacturer of steel to selling solutions.”
He points to the challenges farmers face, from labor shortages to low crop prices, and says that there is room for smarter technology that can improve customer operations.
“Of course, GrainViz is going to be the start of that, and we’re working hard alongside our new team members to continue to develop that and get it out into the market. But the plan and the goal is that the future will be much more than GrainViz,” he says.
Adds Lance Brown, director, product management, smart solutions and product training, Agco: “We see GrainViz as kind of a foundational piece for our smart grain platform of the future, and not only do we love the product so much we bought it — the team members and the talent was also a key deciding factor into why we decided to make this acquisition.”
Brown adds that customers are looking for solutions that are going to provide them more value. “When we think about a connected grain system — not just this steel that’s storing the grain — but also managing the grain, keeping it at optimum moisture, potentially automating the fans so we prevent spoilage.”
The aim is to maximize the value of that crop in the bin, and eventually, GrainViz will be part of an entire system that brings tighter management of stored grain. Brown explains the aim is to provide simpler, easier solutions for farmers to manage and secure their grain.
Farm Progress has covered GrainViz since it first came on the scene and it’s nearing full market commercialization. “Once we fully develop and get GrainViz out on the market, it is quite a bit different than other monitoring and management solutions available,” Brown says.
Working kind of like an MRI for your grain bin, the GrainViz system collects critical crop data through the entire crop in the bin. What separates this system from others is the fact that it can help — in a very detailed fashion — visualize problems in the bin.
It’s a more graphical way of presenting information, and Brown says the data gathering of the system is more in-depth than traditional cable systems. It’s a three-dimensional view of your grain that does more than measure moisture and temperature; the system can also provide an accurate inventory of grain on hand. Brown likens that map to a field map you might see from your combine.
“It allows growers to be more proactive about their management decisions,” Brown says. “So, they’re not waiting for a hot spot, then trying to predict a problem and take some action, because at that point there may already have been some damage.”
Knowing exactly how much grain you have in each bin can be valuable information as you build your risk management plan, or work through the logistics of a busy harvest. Knowing where to put grain, and where you have the space, can help boost efficiency.
The purchase of 151 Research brings in that new product, but it also gives Agco, and GSI, access to future tech tools. As they say on television, stay tuned. You can learn more about GrainViz at grainviz.com.