Successfully harvesting a crop and getting it out of the field and into the store is a huge relief but maintaining quality once it is in the store is just as important to get the best price and avoid deductions.
You can use monitoring sites to record results from checks such as moisture, temperature and pests like insects or mites. These records are also important as evidence of due diligence and are a requirement for lots of assurance schemes such as Global GAP and Red Tractor. You can find full instructions for setting up and updating monitoring sites here.
In the examples below we will talk about cereal/grain storage but similar principals could be applied to many other crops depending on their management requirements and spoilage risks. For example in potatoes you may want to include disease checks on your monitoring sites
Before using your store you will want to ensure it is clean and free of any pests. You can use notes to record what maintenance you have completed with the date so you have documentation for any inspections. You can set these up as tasks with a due date before when you expect to start harvest so that they do not get overlooked in the rush to prepare for harvest.
During storage, frequent monitoring for the presence of insects and mites is essential. Regular measurement of temperature and moisture is also important, as increases may point to emerging pest problems. Setting out traps such as pitfall traps is a good way to get an indication of pest populations. By checking these regularly you get an early warning if pest levels are increasing so that you can treat the issue as quickly as possible.
You can use a monitoring site for each of your traps and then update it with a count of what pests have been found each time you check it. This will give you a log with dates of checks and findings.
You could also have an option to record that rodent activity from mice and rats has been checked for.
Moisture and temperature
During the winter months grain moisture and temperature should be checked at least monthly. You can find target moisture contents for cereals and oilseed rape/canola on the AHDB website. In general grain should be stored at lower temperatures because at higher temperatures it will exchange moisture with the air. You should monitor at several locations and sample consistently at the same ones each time.
You can measure grain moisture rapidly using a probe but for more accuracy you will need to take a sample and use a moisture meter.
You can set up monitoring sites for your chosen sampling points and then update them each time you take a moisture reading.
Keep an eye out for sudden increases in moisture and if you see an increase of 2% or more investigate the cause, for example, condensation, leaks, hotspots or insects, and take necessary action.
You can also install connected monitoring equipment to save the effort of going and taking grain samples and testing them. Examples of these are Martin Lishman and Agrolog. As part of our ongoing integration work we plan to link up with these sensor brands so that you can get updates for your storage monitoring equipment directly to fieldmargin. If you are using these tools or manufacture them we would love to speak to you to get your ideas on how this could work.