Mitchell Farm: Smartest Bins In Town

Farmer Clay Mitchell, in his quest for maximizing the efficiency of as many farm functions as possible, saw enormous possibilities for streamlining grain storage and drying. Here’s how he plugged in some smart technology that keeps things moving swiftly at harvest time.

The Mitchell Farm has two grain storage locations. Both locations are controlled by Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) which can accept myriad commands which result in a desired action at the location. Level switches, pressures, temperatures, motor starter conditions, and other functions are ready by the PLCs, and the outputs control the augers, legs, blowers, and other functions of the storage drying system.

“As grain is delivered to the pit it is automatically put into the correct bin,” says Mitchell. “Grain from the dryer is moved to the cooling bin, and from there to the storage bins automatically.”

The real magic is in how the PLC is controlled. On-site, operators can use push-buttons and an input screen. Or, a user can control them remotely from a computer anywhere on the farm network. “This can be from the shop, or the house, or a laptop in the pickup, or even the combine via the wireless network,” says Mitchell.

The condition of the facility also is displayed on these computers — for example, which blowers and augers are running, how many bushels are being moved from one bin to another, bin totals, dryer temperature, and static pressure in the dryer.

If there is a fault, such as a plugged downspout or motor overload tripped, that is also displayed. And if you ask it nicely, it’ll find you.

“The system is able to send text messages to pagers or text cell phones in a fault condition.” says Mitchell.

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