Agribusiness & Food

Sensing the silos

HE Silos has partnered with a Danish technology company to release a suite of sensors that can detect grain spoilage days before it happens.

HE Silos has partnered with a Danish technology company to release a suite of sensors that can detect grain spoilage days before it happens.

For many farmers, the grain they harvest, and store is more than just a crop, it’s an investment. In some cases, their livelihoods depend on being able to sell the crop at the highest value possible, especially after years of drought and recent bushfires.

However, Stevie Leigh Morrison, Business Manager at HE Silos, says in many cases people are more reactive than proactive when it comes to efficient and effective grain storage.

“One of the key issues in grain storage is that people sometime wait until there is a problem, like mould or insect infestation, before doing something,” she says.

“They will fumigate their grain to save what is left, instead of acting beforehand and preventing any losses.

Related stories:

“It’s possible to lose a whole silo worth of grain, if not more, if spoilage isn’t effectively prevented, which is devastating to a family business.”

To help farmers prevent this, HE Silos has partnered with iGrain, a Denmark-based crop protection technology developer. iGrain’s main focus is optimising spoilage prevention and improving the conditions within silos for long-term grain storage. The company has developed a number of temperatures, moisture and carbon dioxide monitoring devices that aim to address these issues.

Denmark’s climate and agricultural industry differs greatly from the Australia’s often harsh conditions, which is why HE Silos began testing the equipment locally. The products have undergone more than a year of testing and are now being rolled out as part of the company’s silo offering.

One of the key sensor devices is the ‘CO2 sniffer’, which can detect grain spoilage and insect infestations up to 48 hours before it occurs. It does so by monitoring the levels of carbon dioxide within a closed silo through a cable that runs through the centre of the structure. It then detects unwanted biological activity as it releases the gas and notifies the owner about the problem before it gets out of control.

Morrison says systems like this are even more important for silo owners with high-value crops like macadamia nuts.

“Macadamia nuts are expensive by the tonne, but to ensure you can sell them at the right price, they need to be kept in the right conditions. Without condition monitoring tools, the only way you can find out if there is an issue is by manually opening up the silo,” she says.

“Our new range of devices helps improve the quality of a crop, increases the return on investment and can last within a silo for up to 10 years with regular maintenance.

“We have found that farmers understand the value these types of monitoring tools provide and have studied the market to learn exactly what they’re looking for from these kinds of tools.”

The new range of condition monitoring devices is now part of the HE Silo’s offering to support the company’s core business – custom designed silos. The company can manufacture a number of silos, whether it’s a massive industrial storage silo, or a smaller silo for on-farm storage.

HE Silos is now gearing up for busy season, following drought-breaking rainfall across the country.

Morrison says it is important to start preparing for the harvest early to ensure everything is in place.

“You don’t want to be caught in a situation where you don’t have enough storage for fertiliser or grain during the busiest part of the year,” she says.

“Get prepared early, especially if you have any special requirements, to ensure you will be ready for next years harvest”

Send this to a friend