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#FrontierSouth - Moisture meters: not glamorous but very important


Often overlooked, the humble grain moisture meter is a significant piece of equipment that can help to determine the key characteristics of your crop while harvesting, drying and ensuring the correct storage. Accurate readings are crucial for safeguarding the condition of your grain so it's important to ensure your meter is in full-working order. With this in mind, I thought it would be good to look at the benefits of testing and calibrating your meter and how we're offering support in the region to help you do so.  

Dry, but not too dry

While there is often a focus to dry grain below a certain level, it is equally important not to over-dry. Doing so can cause a loss of valuable revenue through weight lost.

As an example, let's look at feed wheat. If it is dried down to 12% (rather than a target of 14.5%) this will lead to an extra weight loss of 28.4kg per/t*. Using a nominal £130/t for the sale price, this equates to be £3.69/t of grain loss.

Furthermore, if this were to happen in a 500 tonne store it would work out to be £1,846 of lost tonnage – a figure which would comfortably pay for a reliable, modern and accurate moisture meter. 

Manage levels of moisture content

When grain is left stored for long periods of time with high moisture levels, the quality can be significantly affected. This is most prevalent in malting barley where warm, wet conditions can cause the grain to lose germination in the shed.From a food/feed safety perspective, having wet grain in store can lead to issues with the development of storage mycotoxins, such as Ochratoxin A which could then exceed legal and contractual limits. Attention to detail and regularly checking moistures are paramount, especially when the crop is stored right into the spring. With a 14.5% moisture target, accurate measurement is of vital importance.

As a general rule, aiming 0.5% below the contract specification is a good target as most hand-held machines have approximately this level of variability. Importantly though, you should remember that it will depend very much on the quality of the moisture meter used. Technology has moved on considerably in the last five years – if your machine is older than this it may be worth considering an upgrade to the newer Unified Grain Moisture Algorithm (UGMA) technology. Older capacitance or resistance meters can be guilty of giving erratic results, particularly with grain straight from the drier or that has been freshly harvested.

If you are not completely sure, get in contact with your farm trader who can organise for a sample to be put through one of our local grain labs. 

Frontier moisture meter testing

Over the next two months, we have planned moisture metre 'clinics' across the South to aid with accurate readings, supporting you to keep your grain in the best condition possible. At the clinic, we'll give you the ability to check certified moisture samples so you can identify whether your equipment is performing correctly or needs calibrating.

While the service is completely free, a suggested donation in support of the local air ambulance will be encouraged.

Please see below for dates and locations: 


​1st May 2018 ​Ashford Cattle Market, Ashford, Kent
​5th June 2018​Bockhampton, Dorchester, Dorset
​6th June 2018​Keysley Grain Store, Warminster, Wiltshire
​8th June 2018​Chichester Grain, West Sussex
​20th June 2018​Wingham 3D Demonstration Day, near Canterbury, Kent

For more information or to book a place, please speak to your local Frontier contact.

*AHDB Grain Moisture Calculator  

Guy Hewitt

​Farm Trader

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