No matter where in the world, the weather plays a crucial part in agriculture and especially in harvesting and storing crops. In most places, the optimal time for harvesting is decided by measuring the moisture of the crops. In other places, like the Nordics, the harvest time is based mostly on the forecast. In Northern countries, the moisture should be less than 20% when harvesting and less than 14% after being placed in the dryer. If the grains are left with too much moisture, they can start to spoil with mold and unwanted bacteria. Today, grain drying is expensive, it is also one of the most energy-consuming processes on farms. For efficient drying and storing monitoring the grain quality is essential.
At the harvest, efficiency is a key due to limited resources. Timelines of harvest and prevailing harvest weather affect grain quality. Throughout a single harvest day, grain moisture content changes and trailer loads will differ due to natural variation in each harvested field. The first priority is measuring moisture content to determine if drying is necessary by sampling loads from each trailer for moisture content so that the production of mycotoxin is limited. Once the drying process is underway, further analysis helps monitor progress towards the set drying targets.
If the dryer is reserved for one batch too long, the rest of the harvest can be spoiled by bad weather. In most cases, the drying of the crops should be started in less than 12 hours after harvesting to prevent heating which is a sign of poor microbiological quality. If you already know whether the crops are going to be sold for human consumption or used as a feed based on the quality of the harvested crop, you can use the dryer more efficiently and save money.
If the protein is already checked before harvesting you can harvest the crops dedicated to livestock feed later when they have dried more, if the weather is suitable, or dry them faster in the dryer. For example, barley that is going to be malted needs to keep its ability to germinate so the drying takes longer. With the GrainSense device, you can immediately check if the protein content of malting barley is in the suitable range. If not, then you can determine to use the crops as feed. You save time, effort and money when you don’t have to wait for the potential buyer's lab tests after the drying. Monitoring and protecting the quality of the harvested crops is essential for farms to maximise their income after one year of hard work of growing crops!