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Use your smartphone to monitor seed-tube blockages

Saskatoon-based Agtron used its display at Agritechnica to introduce its newest product, the Wireless ART. It’s a system designed to send data from seeding-rate and blockage sensors on a drill’s seed runs to an ordinary smartphone, eliminating the need to add another monitor to the inside of a tractor cab. “Our new wireless ART has no (wire) connection between the implement and cab,” says Bill Baker, president of Agtron.

When connected to the system, an ordinary smartphone can monitor several runs simultaneously. “It will actually monitor up to 140 (sensors) with a single-loop system or 240 with a dual-loop system,” he adds. The Wireless ART’s sending unit on the implement gathers input from seed-run sensors through cable connections and converts the data to a wireless signal the smartphone can receive.

The system uses the same stainless steel sensors Agtron has been offering for a few years now. “They’re tried and proven sensors,” adds Baker.

The app necessary to enable the smartphone to work with the system is free and can be downloaded by anyone, using Google Apps. The only purchase necessary is the transmitter, which needs to be mounted on the seed drill, but the company has not yet announced a retail price for it. “The sending unit price hasn’t been established yet,” says Baker. “But it won’t be a terribly expensive price.”

The system should hit the market by mid 2012. “We’ll be doing field trials this spring,” he adds. “If those are successful, it will be available this summer.”

So far, only an app for Android-based smartphones has been released, but the company expects to have another one ready for iPhones about the same time the system hits the market in mid year. “At this point we’re offering the app (just) for the Android phone. Of course we’ll have it available for the iPhone as well,” he says. †

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Scott Garvey

Scott Garvey is a freelance writer and video producer. He is also the former machinery editor at Grainews.

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