New Technology with Miniaturized Handheld Grain Combine for Eliminating Increasing Costs of Outdated Practices for Pre-Harvest Sampling

Period of Performance: 07/27/2016 - 12/31/2016


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

75345 RD 317 Array
Venango, NE 69168
Firm POC, Principal Investigator


Small and mid-sized farmers, custom harvesters, and universities lose millions of dollars annually to antiquated methods of moisture sampling grain prior to harvest. In 1963, the USDA standardized electronic moisture sampling. Today, all U.S. grain terminals/elevators are required to use electronic moisture sampling machines that are calibrated and inspected to USDA standards.Problem: Efficiently obtaining a grain sample for moisture testing. Grain elevators charge dockage fees to farmers for grain that is too wet or too dry. Farmers must use full-sized combines to test moisture. This method requires hours of driving time, depreciation ($120/hr.), fuel, and labor expenses. A 2000-acre wheat farm missing the optimum harvest time loses $1600/day. Urban farmers and University test plots(50,000 head rows and 18,000 test plots in Nebraska alone) lack a cost effective method to harvest grain other than hand harvesting. The proposed miniaturized combine, a handheld, battery-powered device to rapidly harvest, thresh, and test moisture will eliminate the need to use large equipment for sampling.Objective: Collaboration with University of Nebraska Agronomy Department and Innovation Campus will test the accuracy and mechanical design on multiple varieties of grain. Field trials other than UNL plots, in major grain producing states (Texas through Montana) will be carried out simultaneously with test units operated by select farmers and custom grain harvesters. Educational outreach will be accomplished through UNL's Extension Educators, multiple state tradeshows, field demonstrations, and traditional marketing avenues aimed at grain growers.Anticipated Results: Our device will allow farmers to quickly sample any field, any time, to monitor moisture. University seed breeders will harvest test plots without cross contamination of varieties. Urban farmers will finally harvest backyard or small farm grains mechanically. Small grain farmers (500,000) in the U.S. will benefit by increased yields and profitability when using our device, as will small-scale foreign farmers currently using hand-harvesting methods. A worldwide market will be created. Manufacturing in the U.S. will generate jobs in rural areas.