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Microwave Moisture Sensing of Seedcotton: Part 1: Seedcotton Microwave Material Properties

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      Moisture content at harvest is a key parameter that impacts quality and how well the cotton crop can be stored without degrading before processing. It is also a key parameter of interest for harvest time field trials as it can directly influence the quality of the harvested crop as well as skew the results of in-field yield and quality assessments. Microwave sensing of moisture has several unique advantages over lower frequency sensing approaches. The first is that microwaves are insensitive to variations in conductivity, due to presence of salts or minerals. The second advantage is that microwaves can peer deep inside large bulk packaging to assess the internal moisture content without performing a destructive tear down of the package. To help facilitate the development of a microwave moisture sensor for seedcotton; research was performed to determine the basic microwave properties of seedcotton. The research was performed on 110 kg micro-modules, which are of direct interest to research teams for use in ongoing field-based research projects. It should also prove useful for the enhancement of existing and future yield monitor designs. Experimental data was gathered on the basic relations between microwave material properties and seedcotton over the range from 1.0 GHz to 2.5 GHz and is reported on herein. This research is part one of a two-part series that reports on the fundamental microwave properties of seedcotton as moisture and density vary naturally during the course of typical harvesting operations; part two will utilize this data to formulate a prediction algorithm to form the basis for a prototype microwave moisture sensor.

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          Microwave Engineering


            Author and article information

            United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Services; Cotton Production & Processing Research Unit, Lubbock, TX 79403, USA; John.Wanjura@ (J.D.W.); Greg.Holt@ (G.A.H.)
            Author notes
            [* ]Correspondence: Mathew.Pelletier@ ; Tel.: +1-806-746-5353
            Role: Academic Editor
            Sensors (Basel)
            Sensors (Basel)
            Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)
            02 November 2016
            November 2016
            : 16
            : 11
            27827857 5134502 10.3390/s16111843 sensors-16-01843
            © 2016 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

            This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (


            Biomedical engineering

            density independent, microwave, moisture, cotton, seedcotton, seed


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