Simple new meter tracks moisture in stored grain

by Laura Lloyd
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A new moisture meter device may help prevent losses from insects, spoilage and mold. Photo courtesy of USDA.
A new moisture meter device may help prevent losses from insects, spoilage and mold.

MANHATTAN, KAS. — Paul Armstrong, an agricultural engineer with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (A.R.S.), and  colleagues at Kansas State University have invented a device to help  farmers in the developing world determine the moisture content of their grain in storage.

This metering device may help prevent losses from insects, spoilage and mold. It works by measuring relative humidity and air temperature within the grain, which are two key parameters used to estimate moisture content, the U.S.D.A. said.

 Called the Post-Harvest Loss (PHL) moisture meter, it costs only about $75 to make, using “off-the-shelf” components. Readings appear on a small display window after about six minutes.

In the developing world, large bags rather than bins or silos are used to store grains such as corn.  Farmers in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Bangladesh and Ghana are evaluating the meter as part of a U.S. Agency for International Development project, “Feed the Future Innovation Lab for the Reduction of Post-Harvest Loss,” the U.S.D.A. said.   
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