Just like the evolution of eight-track tapes to cassettes to CDs to MP3s, moisture meters have evolved over the years. They have become more portable, going from heavy metals to durable light-weight plastic. They have also cut down the time they need to read moisture levels, going from mechanical to digital. A process 40 years in the making, reading moisture levels used to take up to four hours – not including the time it takes to collect a grain sample.
The new 999 series uses dielectric wavelengths that go through the middle of the grain, rather than going around, making a more accurate reading. When it goes through, it reads various components to determine the moisture and temperature based on years of statistics, and displays it as a number on the screen. "We have the ability to measure the moisture in grains and subdivisions of grain," says Isac Linhares, international business manager for Missouri Moisture Analyzers. "With the 919, it was a process of 20 minutes. Now it's as little as 10 seconds or 5 seconds."
Advantages for the farmer
Why measure the moisture in grain? There are five major benefits, Sinclair says. First, it lets the grower know the best time to harvest. Second, it verifies the moisture reading at the elevator and what the elevator is paying for it. Third, it reduces drying costs and helps growers manage moisture.
"If you go too wet, you're going to have spoilage. If you are too dry you're going to have breakage," Sinclair explains. "When you have a moisture meter, it tells you how far to go."