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Marketing and Delivery of Quality Grains and BioProcess Coproducts
M.D. Montross, S.G. McNeill
Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering
NC-213 engineers, entomologists, plant pathologists, grain/food scientists and economists continue to investigate and address grain quality issues such as breakage of corn during handling and transport, stress cracking of corn during drying, development of instruments to measure grain quality attributes, and development of sensors to monitor grain quality. Other topics involve alternative technologies and practices to protect grain from insect and fungal pests and processing practices to insure the quality and safety of various end products.In addition, the group has expanded to look at quality management and assurance systems for identity preservation/traceability. This multi-state project provides an opportunity for team members and industry stakeholders to interact and collaborate on addressing specific engineering, scientific, and economic issues associated with project objectives.
In addition to quality, both crop yields and processing efficiency are primary concerns for the emerging biofuels industry. For example, increased corn production will lead to a higher percentage of corn-on-corn rotations that in turn will increase the occurrence of several pest species including mycotoxin producing fungi (e.g., Fusarium, Aspergillus spp). These fungi are known to affect quality, quantity, and ultimately the ability to produce sufficient quantities of grain for feed, fuel, and food. Developing new technologies to detect mycotoxins and reduce mycotoxin levels will be important.
Economic models accounting for additional resources required to maintain crop quality over longer periods of time will be critical to the cereal and oilseed industry. Co-products such as DDGS must now be considered. The biofuels industry demands a high-quality corn feedstock with low grain damage and very low mycotoxin levels due to the importance of producing a high-value DDGS co-product along with ethanol and biodiesel. In addition, identification of grain types and agronomic practices that result in high raw material to fuel conversions during processing will be necessary to help ensure the industry economic viability.
2009 Project Description
The packing of grains and oilseeds in grain bins is being estimated using Janssen's equation. The coefficient of friction, lateral to vertical pressure coefficient, and compressibility are being determined to estimate the change in bulk density during storage. Packing is important for inventory control and quality management systems that are being developed for traceability. Additional work is being conducted to evaluate the accuracy and best operating procedures to determine volumetric estimates. The magnitude of packing and volumetric estimates are used to determine the quantity of grain stored in a bin. Accurate grain packing information is used by crop insurance agents, banks, and other financial intuitions. Tests are being conducted to measure the packing in laboratory and field conditions to simulate a wide variety of operating parameters. Initial field tests are being planned near Lexington, KY to develop initial error estimates and refine the data collection procedure. The project is in collaboration with USDA-ARS and the University of Georgia. Numerous farmers will be utilized to update grain packing estimates.
The basic procedures for estimating grain inventory were developed between 1920 and 1930. Bin sizes and operating procedures have changed considerably since then. This has led to a widespread belief that the current procedures are inaccurate. Procedures are being modified to allow for the accurate determination of volume in grain bins. Existing methods are rudimentary and considerable variation exists between inspectors. The project will likely have a large impact when the protocols for determining grain inventory are rewritten.
Molenda, M., M.D. Montross, S.A. Thompson, and J. Horabik. 2009. Asymmetry of model bin wall loads and lateral pressure induced from two- and three-dimensional obstructions attached to the wall. Trans. ASABE. 52(1): 225-233.
Łukaszuk, L., M. Molenda, J. Horabik, M.D. Montross. 2009. Variability of pressure drops in grain generated by kernel shape and bedding method. Journal of Stored Products Research 45(1): 112-118.
McNeill, S.G., M. D. Montross, S. A. Thompson, I. J. Ross, and T. C. Bridges. 2008. Packing factors of feed products in storage structures. Appl. Eng. in Agric. 24(5): 625-630. (not reported in last report).