GRAIN storage robot 'Crover' has won £366,000 in innovation funding under the Defra Farming Innovation Programme from UK Research and Innovation.

The Edinburgh-based company has been touting its machine as a breakthrough in the automated monitoring and management of stored grains – basically, the Crover goes for a swim into the heart and corners of silos, measuring temperature, moisture and other factors.

Post-harvest losses during long-term grain storage can be high, above 20% in the UK and worldwide. Pests are to blame, with grain moisture content and temperature being the most significant factors. Cereal storage sites such as farms, grain merchants, millers, and breweries, experience these challenges, which have high-cost implications in terms of lost revenue and costs to rectify.

Crover is now developing a novel non-contact sensor for grain analysis that is able to detect specific molecular compounds within a radius of up to a few tens of centimetres, based on miniaturised sensing technology.

Founder and managing director of Crover, Lorenzo Conti, said: "At the moment the only grain bulk parameters that can be measured directly in-situ via sensors, without requiring a sample to be collected, are temperature, humidity/moisture and CO2 – we go into this project with the big ambition to expand that range significantly and to take measurements that are currently only possible in the lab into the grain bulk, while implementing that into the Crover robot and system – think superman partners with batman, in a grain monitoring sense."

Down the line, the result of this project is expected to allow for the expansion of the parameters that Crover will be able to measure, including specific nutrient measurements, insect presence and species identification aligned with different customer requirements. The project is being worked on in partnership with Agri-EPI Centre and Dyson Farming.