USDA engineers develop sensor system to improve peanut drying

July 26, 2017

A sensor network developed by U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) engineers could make it easier and cheaper for peanut growers and processors to dry their peanuts. Once farmers have harvested their peanuts, they bring them to a buying point for grading and pricing. If the moisture content is too high, the semitrailer loaded with peanuts is transferred to a drying bay for a drying process that might takes days. If the peanuts are under-dried, over-dried, or dried too slowly or quickly, it degrades their quality, and they will sell for a lower price.

According to AgResearch magazine, the USDA ARS engineers have designed a sensor network that monitors temperatures and humidity levels inside the semitrailers and the kernel moisture content. A weather station also tracks outdoor air temperatures, humidity levels, and wind speed—all of which can affect the peanut drying rate.

In addition, the engineers recently upgraded the technology to provide real-time moisture readings to a computer or smart phone. That way, when peanuts are sufficiently dried, operators can turn off the drying blowers, and no one has to climb up into semitrailers to collect peanuts and check their moisture content.

In a study published in Drying Technology: An International Journal, researchers concluded that real-time monitoring capability could save more than $20,000 a year in energy costs at a typical drying station. In addition, since peanut growers pay to use the privately owned drying stations, the technology should lower the fees for growers as well.

AgResearch article

Study abstract