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Grain aeration controller offers peace of mind

Automated systems can provide up-to-date temperature and moisture data — and help you sleep better at night.

5 Min Read
Tom Nugent examines the control box for his GSI GrainVue system
NO MORE GUESSWORK: Tom Nugent prepares to examine a control box for the GSI GrainVue system, which he installed in his new 145,000-bushel bin. Tom J. Bechman

Tom Nugent invested a large amount of money in a recent grain bin expansion. When it came time to decide if he should install temperature cables and a system to monitor them in the new 145,000-bushel grain bin, it seemed like a no-brainer.

“We definitely want to know what is going on in that bin,” Nugent says. “And the more we learn, it’s obvious that we weren’t as good as we thought we were all these years managing fans on our own, turning them on and off. With that automatic controller, sometimes fans run in conditions when we would not have turned them on. The bottom line is that it runs fans when the input from weather instruments and data tells it to do so, and it appears to work.”

Aeration controllers have been around for about 40 years, but have never caught fire in a big way — at least, not until now. Nugent believes that if you’re upgrading your grain storage operation, it only makes sense to at least include the framework so you can add an aeration controller later. For him, it made sense to do it now.

Nugent, who farms with his son Thomas near Elnora in Daviess County, Ind., decided on the GSI GrainVue system, a recent addition to GSI’s suite of grain handling products. Some growers choose to install moisture-sensing cables as well. Nugent opted for only temperature cables.

Related:So, you want to build a grain bin?

“It was just the call we made,” he explains. “Moisture cables are more expensive. We reasoned that if we know the moisture in the grain when it goes in the bin, and it goes in dry, it should stay there. What can vary more and be a sign of an issue is the change in temperature.”

How GrainVue works

Jeff Cravens, GSI regional director for sales in the eastern Corn Belt and Canada, explains that GrainVue uses the latest digital cable technology to enable farmers to take the guesswork out of managing grain. The technology provides up-to-date temperature data, and moisture data if you install moisture cables. It can also indicate inventory levels.

He adds that the system gathers and analyzes weather conditions at the site, including relative humidity, using weather instruments at the bin. That allows it to automate fan operation, and dry, cool, rehydrate or warm grain, ensuring safe storage.

Alerts are issued when potential signs of spoilage are detected, Cravens says. GrainVue is a cloud-based system through Amazon Web Services. It’s reliable, secure, easy to install and built for future growth.

“It takes the guesswork out of managing grain in the bin for us,” Nugent says. “Thomas gets information on his phone, and it can display it as a graphic, showing temperatures along the cables inside the bin. He can be anywhere — at home or in the tractor cab — and get readouts from inside the bin.”

Related:Safety matters when buying grain equipment

Control at your fingertips

With so many choices for grain monitoring software, it can be difficult to sort through what works and what won’t fit well in your operation. However, GSI has pioneered a system that provides an app-based solution to grain monitoring and control.

Alan Lockwood, product manager for conditioning products at GSI, explains that this new platform moves away from traditional grain monitoring methods.

“When you think about traditional grain monitoring, you’re thinking about cable systems or something in the bin,” Lockwood says. “This is kind of bringing it a little bit closer to the field, so we’re trying to get a better understanding in near real time of how our dryer is performing.”

A phone application for GSI Connect showing grain dryer data

Adding GSI Connect to your operation is as simple as installing a card into the GSI Vision control system. That card passes data to Amazon Web Services; that data is then transmitted to the application on your mobile device. The app is available for download in both the Apple and Google app stores.

The data generated through the app lives in the cloud, and drying history is available for up to 12 hours on the device, with more data available in the cloud. Lockwood says this feature makes it easy to go back and see how the dryer ran overnight without having to physically check the equipment.

“You can see a quick graph that says, ‘Yes, my grain temperature did exactly what I wanted it to do,’ and you can go about your business,” Lockwood adds.

If something does need to be changed, the controls are at your fingertips. GSI developed a system with the goal of making it easy to navigate; there is no searching through large menus and hunting to find the correct control. Rather, the app features colors and images that make for a user-friendly experience.

Some of the controls featured in the app include adjusting fan settings, load settings and set points, and turning off the dryer. This can be done from anywhere. Additionally, the app keeps users up to speed with text alerts and notifications.

The equipment needed to enable cloud connectivity is about $2,000, and there is a $399 annual subscription for access to the monitoring system.

Currently, the software is compatible with the GSI Portable Dryer and Quiet Dryer models with Vision control. Lockwood says they plan to expand this feature to their tower and TopDry grain dryer lines. More information is available at grainsystems.com.

About the Author(s)

Tom J. Bechman

Midwest Crops Editor, Farm Progress

Tom J. Bechman became the Midwest Crops editor at Farm Progress in 2024 after serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer for 23 years. He joined Farm Progress in 1981 as a field editor, first writing stories to help farmers adjust to a difficult harvest after a tough weather year. His goal today is the same — writing stories that help farmers adjust to a changing environment in a profitable manner.

Bechman knows about Indiana agriculture because he grew up on a small dairy farm and worked with young farmers as a vocational agriculture teacher and FFA advisor before joining Farm Progress. He works closely with Purdue University specialists, Indiana Farm Bureau and commodity groups to cover cutting-edge issues affecting farmers. He specializes in writing crop stories with a focus on obtaining the highest and most economical yields possible.

Tom and his wife, Carla, have four children: Allison, Ashley, Daniel and Kayla, plus eight grandchildren. They raise produce for the food pantry and house 4-H animals for the grandkids on their small acreage near Franklin, Ind.

Allison Lund

Indiana Prairie Farmer Senior Editor, Farm Progress

Allison Lund worked as a staff writer for Indiana Prairie Farmer before becoming editor in 2024. She graduated from Purdue University with a major in agricultural communications and a minor in crop science. She served as president of Purdue’s Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow chapter. In 2022, she received the American FFA Degree. 

Lund grew up on a cash grain farm in south-central Wisconsin, where the primary crops were corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa. Her family also raised chewing tobacco and Hereford cattle. She spent most of her time helping with the tobacco crop in the summer and raising Boer goats for FFA projects. She lives near Winamac, Ind.

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