Not everyone stores grain securely in big well-engineered bins. In many parts of the world, including North America, grain gets piled on the ground, sometimes with retaining rings.
And sometimes there’s not even a steel or concrete retaining ring, says GrainViz entrepreneur Boyd Koldingnes.
When he and the marketing team were in California recently to demonstrate their system, they saw millions of dollars worth of almonds in giant piles on the ground. It’s the normal way to store almonds in California.
“There were birds and rats and mice feeding on the almonds all day and all night. And then when they told me about the rattlesnakes and other poisonous snakes, I was ready to get back into the car,” laughs Koldingnes.
“There’s no way to install any kind of monitoring system when wheat or corn or almonds are piled on the ground. In Third World countries, that’s the norm. Product is stored in the open in parts of the world that need food the most.
“We have a similar situation with grain bags. We get moisture problems, heating and spoilage because we can’t monitor what’s in the grain bag. Rats, raccoons and other rodents get into the bags and we don’t know it until we do a visual inspection, and by then it’s too late.”
The GrainViz solution is the GrainBall, soon to be available for what Koldingnes says will be a reasonable price.
The GrainBall is slightly larger than a softball. You throw it into the pile of grain as it’s being built or into the grainbag as it’s being filled. Although you cannot actually play softball with it, the durable little sphere is engineered to take plenty of abuse without damaging the precious cargo inside.
That cargo includes a temperature sensor, moisture sensor, CO2 sensor, radio transmitter to relay data out to the weather station and a GPS unit that will pinpoint its exact location in the pile.
All data is forwarded in real time to your on-site weather station.
“There’s even a vibration detector that will tell you if a prowler, beast or human, is tampering with your grain pile or grain bag. The battery is asleep most of the time. It wakes up when there’s work to be done. We say it will last two or three years. But there’s only draw on the battery when it’s taking readings or transmitting, so it should last five years.
“In a grain bag, I think you’d throw one GrainBall in about every 10 feet. It doesn’t give you the precise data our full GrainViz bin system does, but it will give you an indication if the bag membrane has been penetrated by birds or deer. And of course it will tell you if there’s heating or some other problem developing.”