Skip to content

Thermal imaging provides farmers a "sixth sense"

The following information is provided by Nationwide®, the #1 farm and ranch insurer in the U.S.*

A couple hours of downtime due to equipment failure can be costly. That’s especially true for large farms with multiple, complex operations happening at once. Thermal imaging can help you stay on top of machinery and equipment performance and prevent small issues from becoming big costly problems.

A thermal camera and software visually document and record temperature anomalies, namely excessive heat. Such a temperature anomaly may indicate a looming mechanical or electrical failure and potential catastrophic property losses. Seeing a machine’s operating heat spectrum without direct physical contact during routine inspections cuts downtime, improves productivity and makes your operation safer.

How thermal imaging reduces downtime

Mechanical and electrical components can show problems in the form of excessive heat before they fail. Early identification of anomalies is the first step in being proactive with general equipment maintenance. Thermal imaging helps you do that. It shows when parts are generating excessive heat in components including:

  • Electrical wiring, including loose, corroded, overtightened or improperly sized connections
  • Breakers, fuses and starters
  • Motors, bearings, gearboxes, belts and couplers
  • Conveyors and bucket elevators

“When you can see a heat anomaly in a piece of electrical circuitry or equipment, you can take corrective action before a more significant problem develops. You can be proactive or predictive with preventive maintenance,” said Nationwide Risk Management Property Engineer Dan Pfeffer. “Being proactive versus reactive usually means less downtime. It’s a way to find problems before they cause a fire or explosion. We can find a hotspot before it starts a fire.”

Why it’s important to take thermal images regularly

Infrared thermal imaging is best conducted on a regular basis. That enables you to see trends in machinery operation and the frequency of any overheating machinery or components. It helps you see patterns that could foreshadow breakdowns. For example, a grain bin ventilation fan belt may be overheating when drying grain under certain environmental conditions.

“The last thing you need is downtime in the middle of harvest when everything needs to be running smoothly,” Pfeffer said. “If you can take thermal images on a regular basis, you can spot trends that can help you be even more proactive with maintenance and upkeep. You can set a baseline, identify problems as they develop, and ultimately track down issues before they develop into full-blown problems.”

Attend an instructor-led course on thermal imaging

In partnership with Nationwide, Fox River Systems is offering Infrared Thermography Training on the essential concepts needed to put thermal imaging into practice. The 8-hour, instructor-led course is aimed at training individuals to conduct basic infrared thermal imaging inspections of electrical and/or mechanical equipment as part of a proactive preventative maintenance program.

The online, virtual classroom allows you to participate and interact with the instructor in real time. We recommend you have a thermal imaging camera prior to the training to get the most from the hands-on lab experience. Those looking for guidance in the purchase of hardware can contact the trainer directly or your local electrical supply company.

Upon completion of the course, you will have the skills necessary to complete a basic infrared thermographic survey, interpret the resulting images, build a basic report and be on your way to improving your overall preventive maintenance program.

To learn more about the course, visit

*A.M. Best Market Share Report 2019. Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle, and Nationwide is on your side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. © 2021 Nationwide.

Special Member Savings

At Southern States ®, we are proud to be a farmer-owned cooperative. Southern States has partnered with Nationwide ® to offer Southern States Cooperative member-producers in North Carolina and Virginia special discounts on farm insurance. In addition to giving you exclusive insurance savings, we're also joining forces to support the cooperative that means so much to you.

Nationwide® Agribusiness is the number 1 insurer of farms in the U.S. and a leading insurer of commercial agribusiness. Go to to find a local agent.

Previous article Switching To Suet For Winter Bird Feeding