Thresher Artisan Wheat adds grain monitoring system

by World Grain Staff
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BLACKFOOT, IDAHO, U.S. —Thresher Artisan Wheat, an Agspring Company that provides wheat and grain crop for the food industry, recently installed two new remote monitoring systems at its grain management facility in American Falls, Idaho, U.S., to remotely monitor wheat conditions.

Since 2014, Thresher has been using Extron Company’s technology to continuously monitor wheat temperatures inside storage bins and ground piles to ensure conditions remain optimal. 

“Last season the region’s wheat yield and moisture levels were higher than expected, which meant we utilized a number of ground piles,” said Rudy deWit, vice-president of Idaho operations at Thresher. “We installed Extron’s grain monitoring system and it was very helpful in minimizing loss of product in light of these conditions.”

In preparation for this year’s harvest, Thresher installed the two new systems and once again found the remote monitoring technology to be beneficial.

“Recently an aeration tube in a ground pile was not properly installed, but the Extron system caught it immediately,” said deWit. “We were able to correct the problem and avoid any grain loss and continue to be pleased with the performance of these systems.”

The grain monitoring system can be applied to any type of grain or wheat storage facility. Sensors are manually inserted into the top of the pile rest about every five feet from top to bottom. They automatically record temperatures and report grain conditions back to a web interface, where growers or handlers can access information in real-time from an internet-enabled mobile device or computer, the company said. In addition to measuring bin temperatures, the system is capable of monitoring CO2 levels, and managing fan control.

The Lakeland Companies is a grain systems integrator and longtime Extron partner. 

“The system can be programmed to send automatic alerts if sensors pick-up abnormal temperatures in a specific section of the bin or pile,” said Mark Spindler, chief technology officer at The Lakeland Companies. “Facility managers are alerted by e-mail and text message immediately if an abnormality is detected so they can address potential issues and prevent widespread grain spoilage.”

In 2014, Thresher installed its first Extron monitoring system at its Rockford, Illinois, U.S., facility which manages over 1 million bushels of wheat for area farmers. At that facility, a sensor detected higher-than-average temperature readings in a ground pile. The affected wheat was quickly removed resulting in over $100,000 worth of product saved. 

“The system was easy to install and quickly paid for itself,” said deWit. “It is also helping us operate a safer workplace for our team on-site at our facilities.”

Because the technology alerts operators of unusual temperatures immediately upon detection, it can help reduce the chances handlers will need to urgently remove spoiled grain from deep inside a bunker or ground pile, a practice that can be unsafe for facility operators, the company said. 
  
In addition to monitoring grain conditions, handlers have more flexibility when they sell grain. The fan control capability helps maintain grain conditions for a longer period of time, in order for users to sell product when market prices are most favorable for farmers. 

“Our responsibility to our customers is to protect their crop and help them make the most out of each yield,” said deWit. “This system supports our effort to do that by making our storage process more reliable and the handling process more transparent.”

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