Breathing new life into old air carts

Ground-drive air carts built before the dawn of the modern digital age can be upgraded with the installation of a new Air Cart Monitor displaying five main functions.

Introduced at Ag Expo in Minot, North Dakota, last month, the device from IntelligentAg monitors bin levels, meter roll shaft, meter box, fan speed and ground-drive clutch control.

It sends all information to the cab via wireless, where it’s displayed on the same iPad that serves the company’s acoustic-based Wireless Blockage and Flow Monitor. It can also function as an independent unit on carts that don’t yet have the blockage and flow device.

The new Air Cart Monitor was designed specifically to retrofit older carts built before sophisticated monitoring was available, said Bobby Volesky at IntelligentAg in Fargo, N.D.

“There are thousands of these carts still in use, but the electronics are wearing out. Replacement components are hard to find and they’re pricey,” said Volesky.

The new monitor is a significant technological upgrade that keeps the cart working at a reasonable cost of US$4,250, he added.

“It has to be a ground-drive system because we’re powering on and off that clutch,” he said.

“We add a couple things to make it work. We add a central controller we call a gateway that does all the processing. That hooks to a PM4 (power module four) that receives signals from your sensors on the cart.”

Volesky said the first run of monitors will target carts with which they’ve had experience and that have compatible sensors, including Concord, Case 2800, Amity and FargoAir. More carts will be added by the end of the year.

Variable rate is not available now, but it eventually will be.

“The beautiful thing about the device is that it’s expandable. It’s all embedded software so we can upgrade the box if a farmer with ground drive wants to convert over to hydraulic drive.”

The device is built and sold by IntelligentAg, but the basic concept came from Gene Breker of Agco Amity in Fargo.

“Gene has been what we call the visionary on this project. He was there since the first air seeders at the very beginning with Concord, then Case, FargoAir and Amity. He’s the guy over the decades who fielded calls from farmers whose electronics have stopped,” says Volesky.

Breker recalled the winter day three years ago when the light bulb came on for the idea of a dedicated monitor for older ground-drive carts.

He and his brother, Joe, own 15 air carts they rent to other farmers in southeastern North Dakota.

“I was sitting in my truck down at the farm, just sitting and looking at these 15 air carts. Nine of them were built prior to the new ISO technology,” Breker said.

“I asked myself why we have all these tanks that require training every time someone comes to pick them up. Because they go on a different implement every time they go out of the yard.

“So I started sketching out in my mind what kind of new technology we could adapt to these older tanks to bring them up to modern standards. And that’s what started this whole process.”

For more information, contact Bobby Volesky at 701-630-4117 or visit

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