Medical 3D imaging technology adapted to monitor moisture in grain bins

Braden Pierce of GrainViz at Ag Days in Brandon this week.

A medical imaging technology developed at the University of Manitoba for breast cancer detection has been adapted for a new application: monitoring grain in storage.

The GrainViz system uses a series of electromagnetic antennas mounted around the inside of a grain bin, which generate a real-time 3D image of the contents of the bin.

“You can think of it as a little bit like a CT scan or an MRI. You’re getting a very complete understanding of what’s inside the bin from a moisture and packing factor perspective. The value is in seeing the pre-conditions to spoilage, and then targeting a certain moisture content in the drying process,” explains Braden Pierce, engineer with Winnipeg-based GrainViz and 151 Research, in this video filmed at Ag Days in Brandon this week.

Unlike conventional temperature cables or probes, the system provides a comprehensive view of the entire bin. In a 23,000 bushel bin of wheat, Pierce says the image resolution enables detection down to the size of a human fist.

The data from the sensors inside the bin is combined with information from a weather station installed on-site to automate the aeration of the bin. Data from the system is also uploaded through the weather station’s cell modem for online monitoring.

Pierce says the system can be used to not only detect early signs of spoilage, but to condition crop carefully, potentially enabling an earlier and higher quality harvest.

Check out the video below for more on this 3D imaging technology for grain bins:


Kelvin Heppner

Kelvin Heppner is a field editor and radio host for RealAgriculture and RealAg Radio. He's been reporting on agriculture on the prairies and across Canada since 2008(ish). He farms with his family near Altona, Manitoba, and is on Twitter at @realag_kelvin. @realag_kelvin


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