Researchers have found an economical way to prevent humidity from destroying crops in both small and large scale agricultural operations. Small beads made from a porous mineral called zeolite absorb water molecules, preventing fungal toxins from growing on seeds and grain in developing countries. The beads prove to be less expensive, time-consuming, and resource-dependent than more common farming practices.
Zeolite beads, developed by Rhino Research in Thailand, have been specially engineered so their pores are just the right size to absorb water molecules. This small but effective fix can help farmers in places like Nepal, India, and Kenya, where about a third of crops are lost due to the effects of excess moisture. By placing the beads adjacent to the harvest in mesh bags or other screened-in containers, crops will be safe from a significant amount of the moisture that leads to rotting or the spread of fungus.
Larger operations can also benefit from zeolite beads. Instead of blowing hot air over walnuts, almonds, rice, and other grains, these dry harvested crops can be passed through the absorbent beads. A flow of ambient air is all that is needed afterward, saving batches from being scorched – a problem that ruins quality and taste. To keep the beads effective, heating them in a compact oven removes excess moisture so they can be reused.
Images via Rhino Research