30 November 2001

Fully automated grain stores are one step closer

Grain 2001 offered a host of

novel ideas and practical

advice to help growers

maintain the value of their

stored grain. Andrew Blake

relays some of the highlights

here, with further machinery

coverage on p66

FULLY automated computer control of aerated grain stores, including spotting and dealing with insect pests, is a step closer, after an 18-month feasibility study on behalf of manufacturer Robydome by the York-based Central Science Laboratory.

The final element now under development is an electronic insect monitor, which will probably be based on the laboratorys PC trap.

Infra-red detectors have already been used to detect insect pests in Canada, but are expensive, notes the CSLs Dean Cook. "We hope to develop our own detector and I am sure it can be done.

"The idea is to produce an all-singing, all-dancing intelligent controller based on integrated decision support," he explains. The concept, encouraged by a DTI award, relies on the power of modern computers and on-line temperature and moisture sensors.

The software uses information from monitors of air and grain temperatures and relative humidity to adjust the operation of fans for best effects. "It assesses risks and then tells the system what it ought to be doing," says Mr Cook.

In due course it should be able to automatically fine-tune its control over different qualities of grain, for example malting barley, which may merit slightly different storage conditions.

An automatic record of every action taken is also kept, which should help as assurance requirements tighten, he believes. &#42