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Real-time Moisture Measurement of Broiler Litter using Capacitance and Near-Infrared Techniques

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  131598217,  2013 Kansas City, Missouri, July 21 - July 24, 2013. (doi: 10.13031/aim.20131598217) @2013
Authors:   Simerjeet Singh Virk, John Patrick Fulton, Oladarin Oluwafemi Fasina, Timothy Paul McDonald
Keywords:   Broiler litter, moisture variability, moisture measurement, capacitance, near-infrared

Abstract. High moisture variability can exist within poultry litter. Accurate and continuous measurement of moisture content would represent a significant improvement in broiler litter handling, conveyance and land application. A study was conducted to evaluate the feasibility of capacitance and near-infrared (NIR) techniques for measuring the real-time moisture content (MC) of broiler litter. Output data consisting of differential voltage signal for a capacitance type sensor and spectral absorption values (1200 – 2200 nm) for a NIR sensor was recorded for broiler litter samples within 16.2% - 42.9% w.b. MC. Initial data analysis indicated that litter bulk density impacted the capacitance sensor voltage. The sensor generated a close to linear response between 16.2% and 31.4% w.b. MC at the given bulk density (BD) and the operating moisture range further decreased as the litter BD increased. Results for NIR data analysis indicated that the absorption bands within the 1400 – 1440 nm and 1900 – 1950 nm wavelength regions were highly correlated to the litter MC. Linear regression models relating the output data (differential voltage and absorption spectral values for capacitance and NIR, respectively) to the litter MC exhibited a high linear correlation (R2 = 0.90 - 0.99). Model validation results also generated high correlation values (R2 = 0.87 - 0.95) between the predicted and measured MC’s. Both capacitance and NIR techniques worked well for determining real-time MC. However, the impact of litter density on the capacitance sensor must be accounted for in order to achieve accurate moisture readings. For the future, the NIR technique is recommended for real-time moisture measurement on litter handling equipment because of its ability to provide rapid, non-intrusive and density-independent measurements.

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