Friday, August 06, 2010

Low-cost moisture meter for grain farmers, traders developed in Nueva Ecija

NUEVA ECIJA, Philippines - Palay and corn farmers as well as traders in the country will no longer depend on the traditional way of determining the moisture content of their harvests.

The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization of the Department of Agriculture based in Muñoz City has developed a low-cost SHEGA III grain moisture meter.

The excess moisture content of the grains leads to spoilage and poor grain quality, while over dried grains result to weight loss. These factors reduce the farmers’ chances of gaining additional income.

According to PHilMech, “farmers can now determine the amount of moisture present in their harvested grains and its price level in the market using the grain moisture meter.” Also, because of its accuracy the possible discrepancies in the moisture content reading can also be minimized.

At present, there are imported moisture meter available in the country through local distributors. The price ranges from 15,000 to 30,000 pesos per unit while the PHilMech grain moisture meter, costs around 12,000 pesos only.

Virgilio Gomez, manager of Macangcong Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Concepcion, Tarlac is one of the users of the SHEGA III grain moisture meter.

“This is very important for - this moisture meter. In the past, we used to guess on the moisture content of our grains, but it is different now because we can get an accurate reading of the moisture content of the corn or palay,” he said.

The PHilMech grain moisture meter is powered by four AA batteries, the measurement range for paddy is 10 to 26 percent MC on wet basis and 10 to 28 percent MC on wet basis for corn.

The technology can measure and get the average of 99 readouts and can store up to seven levels of memory.

For each measurement, about 150 grams of grains are required or just enough to fill the loading chamber that is placed above the testing chamber.
The loading chamber has a protruding plastic rod like a nail which is pushed down to flush the grains into the testing chamber.

The silver metal plate at the center of the testing chamber serves as the sensor which is connected to the main circuit of the moisture meter.

Other special features of the technology include, numeric and time indexed memory recording, auto-power off, commodity menu key control for palay and corn, self diagnostic and auto calibrating because it can detect system errors and show messages on-screen like ‘low battery’ or ‘recalibration needed’.

It has also a real time clock, casing with tactile key control, Gintong Ani melody and it is made from durable engineering plastic casing.

With this state-of-the-art but low cost technology, PHilMech assures that problems with the grains moisture content will be avoided to bring additional income to the farmers. (Erwin S. Embuscado)

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