Cutting The Curve Podcast: How Grain Cart Advancements Are Transforming Harvest
27 Nov 2325 min 21 sec

Grain carts have evolved over the years, mostly in that they’ve become enormous. Aside from size, what else is happening with the ubiquitous implements running beside combines at harvest? Right hand discharge and dual augers are two new technologies already available. The future promises autonomous grain catchers, in-field grain reservoirs, and more. Damian talks to Demco’s Troy Woelber and Benji Vande Griend.  

Presented by Advanced Drainage Systems

00:00 We're talking about grain carts. We're talking about technology and grain carts to enhance and improve your harvest efficiency. 00:05 That's what we're doing in this episode of extreme Ag Cutting the curve. Welcome to extreme Ag Cutting the Curve podcast, 00:15 where you get a guaranteed return on investment of your time as we cut your learning curve 00:20 with the information you can apply to your farming operation immediately. Extreme ag, we've already made the mistakes 00:28 so you don't have to. Managing your farm's water resources is a critical component to a successful and sustainable farming operation. 00:37 Advanced drainage systems helps farmers just like you increase their yields up to 30% with their technologically advanced water 00:45 management products. Visit ad s to see how they can keep your business flowing. Now, here's your host, Damian Mason. Hey there. 00:55 Welcome to another fantastic episode of Extreme Acts Cutting the curve. I've got Benji Van de Green and Troy Ber. 01:02 They are Demco guys. And I asked the question before we hit the record button, what do I need to do to make a better grain cart? 01:09 What are you doing to make a better grain cart? More importantly, why in the hell would I need a grain cart with two offload augers? 01:15 They're gonna address all those questions and more. Alright, we are releasing and recording this at about the end 01:21 of harvest time here in Northern Indiana. Harvest is behind schedule. A lot of folks are telling me 01:26 that harvest is pushing 'em later into the season. So we thought this was a very timely time to talk about that thing. 01:31 That's right outside your combine window, the grain cart. And maybe you're one of those farmers 01:36 that runs the grain cart and you let someone else run the combine. 'cause you see things better from the grain cart 01:42 operation standpoint. Anyway, grain carts, uh, what, 20 plus years ago they became like a mainstay. Before that was gravity wagons. 01:52 Uh, we got huge harvest coming off of these fields. Tell me about grain carts from your perspective. Let's start with you, Benji. 02:00 Yeah. Grain carts have evolved a lot, you know, and what we do at Demco is we try to really listen to what the customers are telling us that they want. 02:08 That's how we've evolved what we offer. So today, you know, we've got unload augers that are 20 inch diameter, 22 inch diameter. 02:19 'cause that's what they've asked for. Um, they're looking at things like easy to operate, fast, unload, good clean out. 02:28 Of course, compaction, that's a big factor is these grain carts get bigger too. Let's talk about the unloading first. 02:35 Troy, you're a product specialist and you work a lot with the grain carts, right? Yes. Okay. Why? 02:43 Uh, I mean, the size of auger is all about speed, right? These guys love, once they get rolling, 02:51 they love to go fast. I mean, that's like the thing, how fast can I peel off this field? 02:55 Is that the whole new reason that these things keep getting, uh, more, you know, bigger augers, faster clean out? 03:01 Is that really what this is about? Speed. Yeah. You know, it really comes down to speed. You know, obviously every farmer wants 03:08 to keep the combine moving, you know, is what they're trying to do. So, you know, the bigger the carts, 03:13 obviously the more they have to unload. Um, you know, which, uh, you know, we've gone from a 14, 12 inch, 14 inch auger, you know, now we're all the way up 03:23 to a 22 inch auger. So, you know, it just comes down to speed. Uh, keep that combine moving, those combines moving. 03:31 And uh, you know, it kind of goes hand in hand. Benji, um, I wrote about it in my book. Uh, we've been seeing it all of our lives in agriculture. 03:41 Equipment's done one thing, get bigger, get bigger, get bigger, go to farm progress show. I saw a, I saw a, uh, grain cart that I think, uh, I think a 03:52 a I think a train might have hauled less grain than this grain cart. When are we gonna get too big? Are we already too big? 04:01 You know, it's kind of a matter of opinion. And in terms of compaction, you could say, I think the biggest grain cart out there is like 04:08 2,500 bushel. That's probably too big already for compaction. Now they're putting tracks under it. 04:15 Part of the reason why some growers are going to that size is because they need the extra capacity in the field because the trucks don't get back in time 04:25 and they need the capacity to keep the combines moving. So that's where their mines go. And obviously, depending on your type of soil, that kind 04:33 of impacts your concern about compaction too. I, I mean, if you're in, let's say rural Manitoba, it might be a, I mean, 04:42 way far away from a population center, those 2,500 grand, uh, bushel grain carts might work, um, in most of the, 04:51 many of the farming areas. Do they even, they can't even fit down the road. So I, I just wonder about, have we already broached and, 04:59 and breached the two big, the two big window? I would say yeah, we're getting there. You know, what we're seeing at Demco is I think we're kind 05:08 of settling in, in sizes of about a thousand bushel to 1300, maybe 1500 bushel. That kinda seems to be the sweet spot now 05:20 that fits most operations. Yeah. And they can still fit down the road and you can still probably fit it into your, 05:26 your utility shed for the winter, that kind of thing. What about then? Um, I mean, yeah, so when you're, when you're more than a semi equivalent is about 05:36 a thousand bushels roughly, right? Yes. So once you get bigger than that, you're, you're moving on to the next semi, et cetera. 05:42 Um, these 2,500 bushel ones, I mean, they obviously are for massive fields, presumably, and, or like you said, they're, they're essentially, it's a, 05:53 it's a reservoir in the field until the semis can get there. Mm-Hmm. Yes. What about the tracks, Troy? 06:01 I get it tracks over something that big. Do you have tracks, machines? Do you, does Dimm go make a tracked grain cart? 06:08 Yeah, we offer track systems on all of our grain carts. Um, you know, tracks have become very popular. Um, you know, especially I would say in the last, you know, 06:18 five to seven years, um, we've really seen the track demand grow. Um, you know, and part of that is, uh, compaction, you know, 06:27 everyone's, uh, seems that farms go, you know, when they're buying, purchasing a new grain cart, they're going bigger in size. 06:35 And, uh, you know, with compaction in mind, you know, the, the tracks kinda sell themselves over time. 06:41 Um, but yes, we are seeing that demand grow. I agree that there, the compaction is a real issue. Like I said, we got $15,000 farm ground and, 06:50 and maybe even more than that. And, you know, some of the AR areas, uh, why would you wanna go out there and pack it down? 06:59 Well, you've got to get the harvest out when you're talking 250 and 300 bushel, uh, yields per acre. 07:05 You've got a lot of quantity of product to get outta there. I understand that. Do the tracks really reduce compaction? 07:11 I mean, if you take, if you take 30 tons and put it over 50 square feet versus 30 square feet or whatever, four square feet versus two square feet, 07:22 I'm trying to think of what the tracks would be, you know, compared to a tire. Isn't it still a massive amount of weight per square inch? 07:30 It is. The, you know, the track tech technology has really grown. Um, you know, there's some colleges out there 07:36 that have done some studies on, you know, compaction, um, you know, the, the tire companies are also trying to combat 07:43 that by air pressure, that sort of thing. You know, it, it really comes down to the footprint, um, you know, how much weight you're carrying 07:51 and then the footprint there that, that is on the ground. So, um, you know, yeah, it's a, it's a good question. 07:58 You know, the tire companies are obviously, um, you know, trying to combat that, you know, sell, uh, 08:04 LSW tires, those sorts of things. But, uh, LSW tires, help me what that means. Yeah, it's, it is just, um, I, 08:12 I don't know if Goodyear was the one who came out with it. Maybe help me out here, Benji, 5, 7, 10 years ago. 08:19 Um, you know, it's just a more low, low profile tire, um, you know, gives it a little bit bigger footprint. 08:26 So, um, but yeah, they're, they're trying to combat that with compaction, but it's, um, yeah, the, the track, 08:35 the, the steam behind the tracks is, is really grown. And, and that's just not on, on the tractors itself, but the grain carts, um, you see areas, uh, 08:46 you get into, uh, Minnesota, um, we got rice growers down south, you know, really wet, uh, conditions. 08:54 Um, and they would really prefer, you know, almost say they can't go without tracks in in those. Yeah. Our, our guy Matt Miles talks about that, that, 09:03 and it, it's a different sort of farming and the, you know, he says we'll sink, uh, sometimes because when you're in these rice, 09:11 the zero grade rice fields where it's absolutely different ballgame. What about the, uh, you said that your, most 09:17 of your stuff settles in there in that 1000 to 1500 bushel range. Are we gonna stay there as yields climb, or, 09:23 or are we, I mean, what, what, where do you see this is going, Benji, where do things go? Yeah, that's the question. 09:30 I think it's, it's gonna be really important that growers look at more than just the grain cart. 09:38 You know? So you've gotta look at hauling it away. You've gotta have enough trucks. That's gonna be the, the main thing, 09:44 because if you don't have that matched up, right? That's where some of these growers are going to things like the, the infield bin on wheels 09:54 or the 2,500 bushel grain carts. Uh, but the issue with those big ones is like we said, compaction, but the other part 10:03 of it is you're rarely cleaning those out completely. So you're probably gonna keep some bushels in the bottom of those things all day long. Mm-Hmm. 10:12 All right. Another thing that you're excited about is you've got a right hand discharge. I think that's what I, that's 10:17 what I would call it a right hand discharge. I used to run a grain cart for my neighbor buddy. Um, you know, especially during the week when he, 10:24 he had plenty of weekend warriors, but guys like me, he needed during the week, uh, guys that are, um, untraditional employed, so to speak. 10:31 So I'm up there running a grain cart for my neighbor buddy, and it was, uh, they always fill out 10:37 of the left hand side, right? That's very, Yep. You're nodding your head. 10:42 This is an audio, this is an audio medium I should point out here. Benji, nobody heard you nod your head. 10:49 All right, so do I, why do I need a right hand discharge? What does that, uh, granted, you can probably say, well, 10:55 it gives you a little more versatility, but it doesn't have two augers on it. Does it? It doesn't have a left and a right, does it? 11:01 No, it just has one auger download. Uh, and for us, the right hand option is on a dual auger. So that means you got the auger in the bottom, 11:10 bringing the grain out of the cart, and then the one unload auger, which can be on the right hand side or the left hand side. 11:17 We've actually talked about it for years, go to go to a right hand. The reason people ask for it is 11:22 because it puts it on the same side as where your tractor controls are. Yep. So it's more convenient for the operator. 11:30 Now, the one downside to it is there are some growers that don't like to fold that auger in every time they're down unloading. 11:36 You have to fold it in if you're gonna be in the right hand, otherwise you're gonna hit your combine 11:41 auger. So that would be the Downside. Right. So is it, do you have two options? Is it, you know, you've got kind of the ambidextrous, uh, 11:49 you can buy a left or a right and exact, exact same model's, just left hand, right hand discharge, yes. 11:55 Kind of golf clubs. Yep. You can go either one. Otherwise it's the same car. All right. Autonomous Troy, it seems 12:03 to me we've been hearing about autonomous for a couple of years now. It seems to me one of the things that we could absolutely, 12:10 um, autonomize would be a grain card. It, it essentially, it's tied to two things, a combine or a semi. 12:19 Uh, those are two machines it has to sync up with. It seems like this would be a no brainer that, that this thing, um, now granted it's gonna have 12:30 to have its own engine on it or, or, or it has a tractor that pulls it that's automatized. How does autonomy fold into the future? 12:37 Where does, where do you see this going on grain carts? Yeah, the, you know, that's a great question, Damien. The, um, you know, we, we've kind of heard that as well. 12:46 The, you know, the grain cart world is, you know, will that become an autonomy, um, operated cart, uh, pulled by a tractor? 12:55 Um, you know, it's, it's really hard to tell. And as fast as, uh, you know, stuff evolves here today, it's, it's just, 13:02 Well, what are you doing? What do you mean it's hard to tell? You're the guy doing it? Are you on, are you making an autonomous grain cart? 13:09 You know, we are not right now, you know, but what we look at is, you know, how do, as the autonomy comes, how does Demco, how is Demco prepared 13:20 to sell their grain carts to be pulled by an autonomous tractor? That's really what, uh, what we're looking at today. 13:25 Okay. So you think it's, you think it's gonna be a driverless tractor pulling one of your grain carts. 13:30 You don't think it's gonna be a grain cart that moves itself down the field. It's not gonna be self-propelled grain carts. 13:36 You know, that, that's probably what our thought is that, you know, today. But, uh, 'cause of the, it's hard to tell 13:42 Because first off, it would take still a pretty big chunk of horsepower to move around a thousand 13:47 bushels of corn, right? Yeah. Okay. So what does that mean? Do you sync with a company right now? 13:54 Are you in talks with, uh, machinery with tractor manufacturers and saying, all right, how can we make this work together? 14:00 Or do they do their thing and you do your thing and you hope that somehow you all converge? You know, obviously we would, uh, we would follow in line 14:08 what, you know, what's, uh, the tractor manufacturers doing. You know, what's John Deere case, IH ft. 14:15 You know, how are they approaching it? You know, obviously they've got some steam rolling, I would say, in the autonomy tractor. 14:22 So, you know, we just have to be able to sync up to, you know, how does our grain cart, you know, function with that tractor? 14:29 How does the scale packages work? Those sorts of things. So I see, what else, when I, what did I, 14:34 what did I miss here on the technology and where the evolution goes? Benji? 14:39 You know, I think on the technology side, it's all focused today on saving labor. Um, which is, you know, the biggest challenge 14:46 for most farmers is we don't have enough labor. Uh, when we talk about green carts being autonomous, you know, that's already part of the way there. 14:55 There's companies that have been looking at that, working at that. The biggest challenge, it has 15:00 to be figured out there is not just having it go through the field alongside the combine, it's how do you unload it properly 15:09 into a truck autonomously? Mm-Hmm. Um, because if you have to still get somebody in there to unload that grain cart, 15:17 then what are you really saving? Yeah. So yeah, do doing the thing, um, along running alongside the combine that looks cool. 15:25 I mean, you can just see the marketing images, the autonomous dimm co, you know, uh, dri driving along a, a combine and a big field, some beautiful now. 15:37 Great. Now put it, make it so it can get the bushels to market. And then there you go. So there's that challenge. 15:44 You've got a dual auger machine that you're talking about. Um, do, do is, am I right that I do, I have a machine, 15:53 I have an auger, I have a cart with two augers on it. Yeah. So you have an auger in the bottom. Oh, okay. Which runs the length of the grain cart to clean it out, 16:04 and then it brings it to the unload auger, which unloads It. Oh, okay. So when, 16:08 when, uh, when you sent me an email and, uh, I said, gimme a couple of new things that you want me to, so it's not two 16:15 augers come off the side of it, Not yet. Are we gonna get there? Maybe, maybe, you know, again, that's where technology comes. 16:24 If you can have the technology to sync that in, where you could potentially fill both hoppers of a semi trailer at the same time, who knows 16:34 What about the cost on this kind of stuff? I mean, we're now in a prohibitive interest rate environment. 16:41 If you're using a lot of borrowed money, this is gonna get really tough. Uh, eight, 9% kind of money out here. 16:47 Um, machinery is not cheap to make, and it's got more technology on it. Are you getting resistance? Are you seeing resistance? 16:55 Uh, I mean, it seems to me we start getting a little tightening in the, uh, in the farming belt here in another year or two. 17:03 Machinery's gonna be one of those things that gets squeezed. Am I right? 17:07 Yeah, I think you're right, Damien. You know, I'm actually, I'm making some sales calls for the company this week, 17:13 and we're starting to hear a little bit of that. Mm-Hmm. Uh, where the interest rates are starting to have an impact. 17:19 And yeah, to your point, at some point it's gonna slow down. You know, somebody's gonna have 17:25 to start making some decisions on, okay. One of the conversations I've had with dealers is they believe there's gonna be a year in 17:32 spending, but on what, what's most important to the growers to spend that on? Because they're not gonna be able to replace everything, 17:39 Right? Yeah. Well, that's been the story for a long time. Uh, you know, we, it looks like we're having a big year. 17:44 Let's go ahead and get some money off our books. Let's do some year end spending. Does that mean it's a combine? 17:49 Does that mean it's a tractors that means it's a grain cart sprayer? You, your prediction is what, 17:55 You know, we're predicting a good year yet for 2024. Uh, but yes, we see signs of it starting to slow down just a little bit. 18:03 You know, obviously everybody knows we went from seven plus dollar bushel corn, and now we're in the upper fours. 18:09 That has a big impact. And then as you just mentioned, the interest rates are having an impact too. Right. What about the construction of, of, 18:18 of this equipment? So, you know, these are not easy. Uh, it's one thing to have a, of an iPhone made in China. You're talking about something that's bigger than a semi. 18:31 These things are all made. I mean, are they all made here? I mean, these are not easy to move, move 18:36 around from country to country, are they? No, they're not easy to move around. You know, if you're gonna ship 'em overseas, you have 18:44 to have it so you can break it down and put it in a container. So yeah, we're making all of our grain carts in, 18:50 in Iowa. Yep. I see. All right. And then the last few things here, new technologies coming that I have not asked about. 18:58 We talked about the tires to the tracks, and then, you know, reduction of compaction. We talked about spreading out that load. 19:03 We talked about bigger augers, we talked about augers on both sides of the piece of equipment, talking about an auger in the 19:08 bottom of the piece of equipment. What other evolution of grain carts are you excited about that, uh, is either already happened 19:16 and I didn't talk about it or is coming down the road? Tony, uh, Troy, gimme, gimme from your perspective. Yeah, you know, really it, 19:24 as we talked about earlier in the podcast, it's, you know, bigger, bigger, faster, stronger. 19:30 Um, you know, what, uh, what evolution will come next. You know, that that's where, you know, our engineering team, some of our design people, you know, they, they try 19:39 and stay outside the box. Um, you know, but, uh, you know, we also need to keep it simple as well. Um, you know, we, during harvest, busy time, you know, 19:50 we need to make sure internally that, that our equipment, you know, is good equipment stands up strong, runs good. 19:58 Um, but yeah, the, the evolution, there's, you know, a lot of different ways it could go. 20:03 But, you know, it just seems like in, in our world, you know, bigger, faster, stronger, Bigger, faster, stronger. 20:11 But for how long is a question I have, do you think as I do, when we figure out the autonomy piece of it, we go faster, 20:20 smaller, more automatized? Is that where that's where I predict things going? There'll be more of them units out there. 20:26 Maybe almost like a fleet, maybe, maybe even the farmer doesn't own all these grain carts. They're owned by some other entity, 20:34 almost like a custom harvesting situation. And a dozen grain carts are out there buzzing around like bees, 20:39 but they're all automized. Do you see that happening? Yeah, a hundred percent. If I'm not mistaken. I think, you know, some of the autonomy stuff is, um, 20:47 they've kind of started out in the smaller tractor world. Yep. Um, you know, where, where they've started with that. 20:53 So obviously, you know, you don't have a, a 400 horsepower tractor out there that's, you know, that where they're starting with the autonomy. 21:01 So, you know, a thousand bushel cart, you know, does that mean there's 3000 bushel carts out there instead of, you know, two 1500 bushel carts? Or 21:09 Benji, what do you think? Is this, is this where it goes smaller fleets, swarms of grain carts? 21:17 You know, that's what we've talked about at Demco. And actually we've, uh, even worked on some things where, you know, maybe even have something that is 21:27 a tank out there that these smaller carts go to, so that when the truck comes in, they load out of that. We worked on something for walco the harvest length, 21:36 but that's where our mind was at, is smaller, less compaction. You know, if you're not as worried about the labor side 21:43 anymore, do you really need these great big grain carts? Mm-Hmm. Yeah. Well, once the, assuming 21:49 that technology can replace the driver, then that, that becomes an easier thing. And then, like you said, a what an infield reservoir, 21:56 that's cool for big fields, but when you're talking smaller fields, it would be a lot to move, but maybe it wouldn't, I don't know. 22:02 Is that, are, did Demco have an infield reservoir in the, in the works? You know, we've tested one 22:09 that right now we're not actively selling, but we called it the harvest link. And yeah, it was a 3000 bushel bin 22:14 that you parked at the end of the field. The grain carts dumped into it, and then it could reach out to the truck. 22:20 And even in some cases, you're on a secondary road, you could reach out and load the truck on the road and keep the trucks outta the field. 22:28 My farmer is a dairyman, and they have, uh, where they drag manure lines like up to two miles. Maybe that's the next evolution, where the combine, 22:37 it goes into something and then the grain just gets pipelined to the facility. Wait, Troy, he's like, he's like, gave me a smirk. 22:46 Is that a maybe that's coming, or a That's crazy to Damian smirk. What is that? Well, it's, you know, nothing's crazy anymore. 22:53 Um, you know, it, uh, guys will try it. Um, you know, again, just about, uh, you know, what, what, uh, what brings tomorrow. 23:02 So, um, yeah, who knows? It, it's hard to tell. Benji, do you like my idea of a manure dragline equivalent for grain getting pipelined back 23:11 to the facility? You liked that, didn't you? No, not really. All right. Get me outta here. What do I need to know about grain carts? Anything else? 23:20 If, uh, if a grower says, Hey, I've got a big question about a grain cart. How do they find you? 23:27 You know, they find Demco at, uh, or they call our office +1 800-543-3626. We've got live people 23:38 that answer the phone at Demco. We don't Actual live people, not just don't have. If you want English, press three. Okay. I like that kind. 23:46 Right? Yeah. All right. We're talking about grain carts, talking about evolution in grain carts. 23:49 And the question, I think a lot of people probably are having, they're getting through harvest. 23:53 They're done, they're done with harvest by the time they're listening to this. Did they have a grain cart thought in their head? 23:58 They probably did, because everybody, like you said, that's a farmer, especially this year, says, all right, if I need to buy something here end of year, 24:06 what am I gonna buy? And they look out the window at the grain cart and they think, is that, is that still where I want to be? 24:12 Or is it time to upgrade that? Or is it time to upgrade this? And that's the question 24:15 that we're addressing here on new technology, kind of exciting stuff. His name's Benji Van GR Green, Benji Van Green, 24:22 and he is joined by Troy Wilber. Uh, Demco Guys, I'm Damien Mason. Thanks for listening to this. 24:27 Share this with somebody that can benefit from it, somebody that you know who might be contemplating machinery upgrades 24:33 before year end, or heading into 2020 fours, uh, season. Thank you for being here. 24:38 Until next time, reminder that if you wanna become a member of Extreme Ag, you get exclusive content. 24:44 You also get direct access to the Farm guys for only seven $50 a year. It's a bargain. Check it out. Extreme, 24:51 That's a wrap for this episode of Cutting the Curve, but there's plenty more. Check out Extreme where you can find past episodes, 24:59 instructional videos and articles to help you squeeze more profit outta your farm. 25:05 Cutting the curve is brought to you by Advanced Drainage Systems, the leader in agriculture, water management solutions.