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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Athens, Georgia » U.S. National Poultry Research Center » Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #336793

Research Project: Rapid Assessment of Grain, Seed, and Nut Quality Attributes with Microwave Sensors

Location: Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit

Title: Interview with Dr. Stuart O. Nelson

item NELSON, STUART - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)

Submitted to: AMPERE Newsletter
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/12/2017
Publication Date: 1/16/2017
Citation: Nelson, S.O. 2017. Interview with Dr. Stuart O. Nelson. AMPERE Newsletter. Issue 91, pp. 31-37.

Interpretive Summary: An invitation from the Editor of the AMPERE Newsletter, a publication for members of the Association for Microwave Power Education and Research in Europe (AMPERE), for an interview was accepted, and biographical information, a summary of research findings on applications of radio-frequency and microwave energy to problems of agriculture, and answers to questions posed by the Editor were provided. The questions and answers related mainly to personal experience in conducting research over the past 65 years on applications related to agricultural problems, on differences in basic and applied research, and suggestions on future challenges in research on microwave power applications.

Technical Abstract: Research equipment and techniques used in exploring effects of radio-frequency (RF) dielectric heating on materials of interest in agriculture are described. Research findings are summarized for studies on stored-grain insect control by RF selective heating of the insects and resulting insect mortalities, RF treatment of seeds to improve germination and seedling development, RF heating of soybeans to improve nutritional value, and RF treatment for seedborne fungi control. Selective dielectric heating of insects in grain can control the insects without damaging the grain. However, costs of treatment are not economically feasible. Germination in alfalfa seed lots with high hard seed percentages can be safely increased effectively, and RF dielectric heating of soybeans was effective in improving the nutritional value as a result of inactivating the trypsin inhibitor in raw soybeans. Partial control of seedborne fungi was achieved, but practical use was not indicated. In use of RF measurements for sensing quality attributes in agricultural products, rapid measurement of moisture content in grain and seed products is highly successful, but sensing of sweetness in melons and other fruits was not shown to be useful. Measurement of peanut kernel moisture content in unshelled peanuts through sensing their dielectric properties was very successful . The technique employed a density-independent moisture calibration function of their dielectric properties, and this same technique permits microwave monitoring of moisture content in flowing granular materials.