special edition: feed sustainability

TeleSense develops grain monitoring system for transport, ground storage

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/fotokostic
© GettyImages/fotokostic

Related tags feed analysis feed quality sensors

TeleSense is creating a grain monitoring system – Cellular SensorSpear – that controls feed grain moisture and temperature post-harvest, with a focus on grain in transit or stored outside.

It took about eight months for the California-based ag-tech startup to develop the 6-feet-long sensing device, said Naeem Zafar, co-founder and CEO with TeleSense.

The spear-shaped unit can be inserted into a pile of feed or grain – including corn, hay, barley, alfalfa and wheat – and provides information on temperature and moisture to the company’s cloud-based analysis systems, TeleSense reported. Machine learning algorithms assess the collected data and provide an alert through the company’s app when anomalies or issues are detected.

“This product is most useful in remote locations or when an electric outlet is not available. river-transport [and] rail transport are commonly used in the grain business, and this is where we see additional spoilage,” ​he told FeedNavigator.

The device is now available globally and intended to work across borders without having connectivity problems, he said.

“The market response has been particularly strong,” ​Zafar said. “So far, the grain transport sector has not had a suitable, portable, reliable and affordable solution. This was exactly our target.”

Monitoring moving feed grains

The system was designed to address grain storage challenges for feed grains, said Zafar.

“Feed grain is an important use case for us,”​ he said. “From cornmeal to soybean, there is need to track for spillage, to avoid hotspots.”

“These days, with the climate change, there is a lot of variation in rain and moisture patterns and that is exasperating the problem,”​ he added.

River-based transport of grains has had recent challenges from low water levels - the new sensor unit helps monitor grain quality during delayed shipping, he said.

The new device expands upon the technology used in the company’s ball-shaped sensor units, which could be used in grain silos, Zafar said. The system uses “minion spears”​ to create a “mesh” ​and then connect to a master spear that interacts with the cloud.

“There is nothing to set up – you literally take it out of the box and stick in into the grain,” ​he said. “It is a five-minute installation process.”

“TeleSense ships it with user app already configured so as soon as you take it out of the box you can log-in with the credentials provided and you can start seeing the data coming in,” ​he added. “Thefirst reading will come within a few hours as the spear is sent with the reporting interval set to every three hours – it can be changed by the user.”

The devices include a rechargeable battery intended to last for about two years, depending on how often the system reports, Zafar said. “It can be used for any grain type and we are using them to monitor woodchips, silage and potatoes.”

The shaft of the unit contains multiple sensors and can measure temperatures up to 125°C or 257°F, he said. “It is monitoring the temperature and humidity at three different lengths down the shaft and the bulb,”​ he added.

It was developed to make use of the cellular systems available in about 91 countries, he said.

In addition to its use with feed grains, the company has seen interest from producers working with silage, he said.

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