Why is Monitoring Grain Moisture Important?
Feeding the growing global population requires constant food quality and safety monitoring to ensure food security. Grain is the most commonly consumed food product, feeding both humans and livestock.

Moisture can ruin entire stocks of grain if not monitored correctly. Even if it appears dry on the surface, moisture can exist deep within the grain. If left unchecked, moisture can lead to mold development, insect infestation, fermentation, loss of freshness, germination, odor development, and discoloration. It can also lead to problems with reduced yields.

Grain is of critical importance to the world’s food supply, so research into improving grain moisture monitoring is a key area of study in the agriculture and food industries. Monitoring moisture improves quality control and processing efficiency. It also ensures food safety, prevents undue economic loss, and reduces waste.

Grain should be dried as soon as possible post-harvest and kept under low moisture conditions to ensure safe storage and the quality of food products and animal feed. Technology plays a key role in ensuring that grain is stored in environments with optimal moisture conditions.

Traditional Grain Moisture Monitoring
Prior to the invention of modern moisture monitoring technologies, farmers had to visually inspect their products to determine if they were dry enough to use. Another traditional approach is using an oven dry test.

Both of these approaches are inefficient, costly, and time-consuming. With visual inspections, there is an unacceptable margin of error, and despite the best efforts of individuals inspecting the grain, problems could persist downstream of quality control measures.

Modern Approaches to Grain Monitoring
Modern agricultural and food industries exploit several technologies to ensure the quality of food and animal feed. Direct methods such as distillation and gravimetric techniques are available for farmers and agro-industrial companies, but these can be less accessible, time-consuming, and require specialist equipment and facilities.

Indirect approaches such as magnetic measurement, microwave, magnetic resonance, infrared tomography, dielectric constant change, and electrical resistance/impedance methods provide faster response times than direct analysis. The use of indirect approaches should take into account test conditions and margins of error, and these methods must be calibrated periodically.

The various techniques employed by agro-industrial companies are governed by international standards such as USDA and ISO. Some analytical methods which are commonly employed for monitoring grain moisture levels include infrared radiation, gravimetric analysis, and Karl Fischer titration. These methods offer the benefits of repeatability, reliability, and accuracy.

Read more: Systems Used in Monitoring Grain Moisture