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Serving: United States
interior view of a grain bin Holly Spangler
MONITOR: “Grain doesn’t ever improve in quality; you can just maintain what you already have,” says Jay Birdsall, Tri-States Grain Conditioning.

Grain temp monitoring not out of reach

For around $2,000, you can monitor corn temperatures in a 50,000-bushel bin.

Got a fever? Jay Birdsall says people and corn aren’t all that different: When corn goes out of condition, its temperature goes up — just like ours does.

“We believe everything starts with temperature. If you can maintain a healthy temperature, your grain quality will remain the same,” says Birdsall, with Tri-States Grain Conditioning out of Spirit Lake, Iowa.

Birdsall says the company’s cable temperature-monitoring system can help farmers do just that. The cables hang from the roof of the bin and into the grain mass. The number of cables you need depends on the size of the bin.

“A temperature sensor will read the air migration in about an 8- to 10-foot radius,” Birdsall describes. “We’ll decide how many cables will get 100% coverage, based on bin diameter.”

Birdsall estimates a 50,000-bushel bin would need five cables to monitor temperature adequately. Each temperature cable runs from $275 to $300.

From there, the company offers various systems to read those temperatures. A plug-and-play hand-held instrument costs $500; you carry it out, plug it into the cable and read the temperature.

From there, you can upgrade to the remote monitoring system, called Grain Trac, which adds $3,500 to $4,000 to the cost. And if you want full automation that will kick on fans at certain temperatures, the Smart Grain Solutions system will do that, without subscription fees.

Birdsall says he estimates cost at a penny a bushel for the plug-in system, and up to 15 cents per bushel for the fully automated system. He says it’s a matter of deciding what you want to accomplish and how much you want to invest in, what he calls, “an insurance policy.”

“Grain doesn’t ever improve in quality; you can just maintain what you already have,” he adds.

For more information, check out or call 800-438-8367.

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