More recently, direct drilling operations have become more popular where the seed is planted directly into non-cultivated soil using a corn drill (Figure 5) typically for winter cereals and forage crops, or a vacuum precision drill typically for maize, soybean and sunflower. Energy conservation and reduced soil compaction are evident advantages of a system that can also combine two, three or four field operations into one.
For small grain, drying to 14% moisture (wet basis) is sufficient to inhibit both fungal and respirational activity. The shelf life of certain fruits (most commonly apples) may be extended through controlled atmosphere storage (using reduced atmospheric oxygen) in refrigerated stores. In most instances, the careful control of temperature and relative humidity is sufficient to extend the shelf life of most crop products stored on the farm. Increasing emphasis on quality control and assessment will be facilitated by novel items of equipment including the electronic nose, biosensors, X-ray computer-aided technology (i.e. three dimensional mapping; CAT scan), nuclear magnetic resonance (Figure 9) and chlorophyll fluorescence.