Historical development of grain moisture measurement and other food quality sensing through electrical properties


When the electrical properties of materials are well correlated with different properties or characteristics of these materials that are important, it is often attainable to use properly designed instruments for rapidly measuring those nonelectrical properties of interest. This could be accomplished by the use of electric fields in sensing the electrical properties of the fabric and then obtaining estimates of the nonelectrical properties through appropriate correlations. In the agricultural and food industries, these sorts of measurements are used for many years for rapid determination of moisture content in grain and seed. Analysis has been conducted seeking helpful correlations between quality attributes of alternative food materials and their electrical properties, but they need usually been less successful than the determination of moisture content. In this text, an summary of the historical development of such measurement methods and techniques is presented with respect to grain and seed and alternative agricultural merchandise and food materials. The article covers use of electrical resistance or conductance of grain samples, radio-frequency capacitance measurements, and microwave measurements of dielectric properties for sensing the moisture content of grain and seed. It deals with the principles concerned instead of descriptions of specific instruments that have been developed for speedy measurement of grain and seed moisture content.

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