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Automation Technology Helps Redefine Modern Farming

July 28, 2016 | Customer Success | Automation


farm automation technologyFor many, farming is a simple idea that involves planting and harvesting. But Jim Lensch, founder of Lensch Farms in Marion, Iowa, has always been ahead of the curve. He travels the world to learn about new technologies and farming equipment.

Jim knows that automating processes and programming for accuracy and efficiency are differentiators for today’s farmer. When he and his son Brian wanted to expand the yield on their corn crop and increase overall profitability, they reached out to John’s Electrical Service, and subsequently the automation team at Van Meter Inc. for help.

farm automation technology
farm automation technology
farm automation technology

With Lensch Farms’ increasing emphasis on corn production, it was obvious to Jim and Brian that moisture was holding their profits hostage.

They did the math – and discovered they could optimize profitability by harvesting earlier and using dryers to remove moisture rather than relying on traditional field drying (leaving a crop in the field to dry naturally).

Harvesting corn at 22-24 percent moisture and drying every bushel would greatly expand their yield and net profit. But how could they accomplish this efficiently without crippling the primary function of the farm: to grow crops?


After significant research and planning, Jim and Brian decided to automate their grain-drying facility with best-in-class components and wanted to create a shovel-less granary that would allow drivers delivering corn to stay in their truck cabs.

Many things were taken into consideration during the planning phase of the project – everything from sweeper designs, deck aeration and load profiles to commercial container sizes and lifecycle costs. 

Van Meter’s team of automation specialists worked closely with John’s Electrical Service to analyze potential solutions, design, program, problem solve, and offer support before, during and after the project. Thanks to automation, loading and unloading trucks is now a faster, safer and more efficient process at Lensch Farms. 

High-tech computer screens are now the nerve center at Lensch Farms, and intelligent motor control centers (MCCs), provide the real horsepower behind the operation. Allen-Bradley IntelliCENTER MCCs with VFDs (variable frequency drives) provide the best-in-class solution that Jim and Brian were looking for. They also lowered harmonics and improved power factor on the farm.  

Scalability was also important to Jim and Brian.  As a result, everything was designed with expansion in mind -- controls, burners, and storage capacity. 

Today, Lensch Farms is poised to accommodate growth without disrupting current production or experiencing loss on their initial investment.

Local access to automation and programming expertise was critical to the success of this project, as was availability of the necessary equipment and parts. Because Van Meter keeps a large inventory of automation components on hand, John’s Electrical Service didn’t ever have to wait on products to be ordered.

farm automation technology
"The automation and programming that went into this job will help Lensch Farms be as profitable as possible, long into the future."

- David James
farm automation technology

Granary innovation can be seen everywhere at Lensch Farms, thanks to automation and control solutions from Van Meter and John’s Electrical Service.

“The Lensch Farms project is equal to what many grain elevators or large manufacturers require,” says David James, Account Manager for Van Meter. “The automation and programming that went into this job will help Lensch Farms be as profitable as possible, long into the future.” 

Drives, soft starts, MCCs, and the operating consoles represent significant change from the standard agri-business. They are all connected via ethernet/IP, an open (no contracts) protocol that lowers long-term costs and allows Brian to operate and supervise the plant – observing and controlling any aspect of the process – from his smartphone or computer. Anything that needs to be programmed, configured, or investigated can be done over the network.

Regardless of market changes or advances in technology, Lensch Farms can move forward as it grows. Scalable structural designs are easily expanded. 

Drying every bushel allows Lensch Farms to beat the market and capitalize on the early season price. The technology that makes this possible is easy to use and maintain, and also allows for maximum uptime and reliability.

With John’s Electrical Service and Van Meter as its partners, Lensch Farms is redefining modern-day farming while increasing production and profits.


Working together, Lensch Farms, John’s Electrical Service and Van Meter Inc. proved that automation changes can be a smart business decision.

Case Study (PDF)

Lensch Farms is a privately held Iowa farming operation located in Linn County. Owners are father and son, James Lensch and Brian Lensch.

John’s Electrical Service Inc. is an electrical contractor business located in Springville, Iowa. They do electrical work for commercial, agricultural, industrial and residential customers.

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