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Innovations on display at Dakotafest

Shawn Gengerke, CEO of Leading Edge Industries, talks Tuesday at Dakotafest near Mitchell about his Load Judge product, which is a grain-monitoring system for hopper trailers. (Sean Ryan/The Daily Republic)

Shawn Gengerke got sick of dust in his face while guessing the amount of grain in his hopper trailer.

Gengerke, CEO of Leading Edge Industries, came up with an idea and is touting his product this week at Dakotafest near Mitchell.

"It's called the Load Judge," he said Tuesday morning. "It's a grain-loading monitor system that you put inside your grain hopper trailers. It senses proximity and gives you a real-time readout when you're loading the trailer."

Gengerke's Load Judge, which has a December launch date, is one of many new and innovative products farmers will see when they walk through Mitchell's Dakotafest, which holds 685 vendors this year. The annual agricultural trade show began Tuesday and ends today.

This week, Gengerke is taking pre-orders for his product. The Groton-based, fourth-generation farmer said smarter technology is becoming a regular part of agriculture. His Load Judge base kit includes sensors that attach to the inside of a grain trailer and send information to a device, such as a tablet or a smartphone, through a free application.

"The beauty is the technology allows you to do this in the dirtiest and dusty conditions," said Gengerke, who's in his first year as a vendor at Dakotafest. "A lot of times when you have cameras or other things that help you load your semi and you need to know when to move, dust blocks the view. This sensor technology allows us to be 100 percent accurate in our proximities in the height of the grain in any conditions."

Gengerke said he's been using the product in his own trucks for the past year. It retails for $6,000 and detects the moisture of the grain and has a bushel estimator.

"This helps load your truck consistently and accurately every load," he said.

Meanwhile, Wendy Stevens, South Dakota service representative for John Deere, showed off a Greenstar 3 Display 2630 unit that attaches to a GPS. Using online technology, a farmer can collect data from a harvest and send it to a website,, that houses and saves the information. The display unit is new on the market this year, Stevens said.

"John Deere sees a lot of opportunity technology-wise and in the data realm for the future," Stevens said. "It's interesting to see us capitalize on this and astonishing to see technology change agriculture. The cost of making bad decisions is so much higher now, and technology helps make much better decisions."

Dan Hegg, of Webster, is a territory sales manager for Case IH. When asked what his company is releasing this year, he pointed to a red-and-black, 40-foot flex draper head.

Used to harvest soybeans and wheat, Hegg said the head retails at $97,000 and will become available in 2014. The draper head is flexible at its base and cuts more smoothly on non-flat surfaces.

Making its introduction to North America at Dakotafest is Shandong Lingong Construction Machinery Company Limited (SDLG), which manufacturers earthmoving and construction equipment in China.

SDLG Director-North America Alan Quinn said the company released two models of wheel loaders this week at Dakotafest.

"Basically what's happened over the last five years is throughout the world, we've seen the growth of Chinese products in other markets like Brazil, Australia and Russia," Quinn said. "It became interesting to see if the growth of Chinese products would be the same here."

The wheel loader is a multi-use machine that farmers can use to feed cattle, fill mixers, and pick up and move hay, among other things, Quinn said. He added construction companies use it for picking up and loading gravel. One of the loaders being sold this week is a 5-ton, which retails at $144,500.

SDLG sells about 35,000 machines per year, selling to 200 countries now that it's hitting U.S. and Canadian markets.

"We're going through a natural progression that people are a little skeptical at first, but they'll look at it and say, 'Hey, this looks interesting,' " Quinn said. "Now we're moving into the phase where they want to see it work and make sure it's reliable."