HIGH-TECH AT HARVEST
BY PETER GREDIG
Technologies and tools that make you safer, more efficient and more productive during harvest time offer big benefits and quick payback. The following suggestions are not about iron and horsepower — they’re your top picks for electronics and software. The brands referred to in the following list of suggestions are provided as examples. Do your own research to find the products that best meet your needs and budget.
It’s a relatively small-ticket item, but heavy-duty remote cameras have proven very beneficial in many harvest scenarios. Being able to see behind the combine, into the grain tank or the view from the grain cart auger — it’s really up to you where to position the cameras. Think about how much time and effort you would save over the harvest if a camera helped you back the truck up to the unloading auger perfectly every time. AgCam (www.dakota- micro.com/agcam) is one brand, but there are others.
WIRELESS GRAIN CART SCALES
Many grain carts are equipped with scales, but now it’s possible to have a system that pushes load data wirelessly to your desktop computer, mobile phone, tablet or the cloud.
Agrimatics (www.agrimatics.com/app) offers an aftermarket kit that utilizes existing scale load cells and links to your iPhone or iPad via the cloud. The software keeps track of all crop that goes through the cart, and can even create a Gps co-ordinate for each load to help track what inventory came from where. No more notebooks, flash drives or printers to slow you down.
Cart manufacturers like Unverferth are also offering new data management technology that can work through your iso terminal or touch screen tablet. Unverferth’s UHarvest (www.uharvest.net) software can link wirelessly to the cloud if you have an account with raven industries’ slingshot (www.ravenslingshot.com) data management service.
There are numerous other options, but the primary message is that, finally, wireless data collection, storage, organ- ization and sharing are becoming easier and more efficient.
GRAIN DRYER MONITORS
More and more crop producers are running grain through their own dryers and this can be a show stopper if the dryer is not functioning properly. A number of dryer manufacturers are now offering mobile apps or web-based monitoring technology. Dryer master (www. dryermaster.com) allows users to view and change the settings on their Dm510 drying control systems via the web browser on their smartphone, tablet or desktop. This system can also be retrofitted to work on older dryers. Eliminating the need to have someone
on hand at the dryer at all times is a huge benefit and will provide savings.
GRAIN BIN MONITORS
For grain already in storage, the priority is to make sure it doesn’t heat up or spoil. With Bin-Sense (www.intragrain.com), a wireless bin monitoring system, information generated by in-bin moisture sensors is sent to a website over cellular networks. The password-protected data can be viewed from any device with an internet connection. If a hotspot is detected, you’ll be alerted by a text message or email so you can take action to prevent spoilage. The system is solar powered and can be used with some existing temperature sensors and cables.
GRAIN INVENTORY MANAGEMENT
Keeping track of what grain is stored where, and whether it’s sold, forward contracted, on basis or available to sell is very difficult when under the gun at harvest time. Grain storage manager, a free mobile app for apple and android devices, allows you to create virtual bins and yards, and to track crop loaded in and out. it converts wet to dry weight and accounts for shrinkage. The visual display allows you to see at a glance how full or empty each bin is. The app also allows you to export all data to a spreadsheet via email, but it does not keep track of marketing information.
Farm Credit Canada’s Field Manager Pro recordkeeping software has a mobile app for apple and android. It lets you enter the relevant information via your smartphone when you harvest or sell crop, and adjusts your inventory accordingly. The app integrates with the desktop version of the software so you don’t have to enter the information twice. Go to www.fcc-fac.ca and click on “Tools & Resources” to learn more.