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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.
2010 Project Description
The objective of this cooperative research is to obtain new field and laboratory data to refine and calibrate a science-based model for determining the packing of grains within upright storage structures. Laboratory data on bulk grain compression characteristics will be obtained for wheat, corn, soybeans, grain sorghum, oats, and barley.
The effect of bin vibration on packing factor will also be investigated in laboratory bins designed for that purpose. Field measurements of grain packing will be obtained from several states to validate alternative measurement devices and the laboratory derived packing factors. This project is in collaboration with ARS (M. Casada), Kansas State University (J. Boac, and R. Maghirang), and the University of Georgia (S. Thompson). Field data will be collected primarily for wheat, corn, and soybeans and for grain sorghum, oats, and barley when those crops are available.
Field data taken at the University of Kentucky Animal Research Center in February 2010 was collected to evaluate the variation in inventory measurements between individuals.
Bin measurements from four trained personnel were compared to the weights recorded by truck scales. The general trend was larger absolute differences (bu) for larger grain volumes and larger percentage differences for smaller grain volumes. Two of the bins contained small amounts of grain, which tended to exaggerate the percent difference between measurements. In the bins with more normal loading, the differences between personnel was small in one case (1%), but still fairly large (about 8%) on the other two bins. The average difference due to measurement with the cone versus the leveled measurement was less than 2% on three bins; however, it was above 5% on both of the bins that only contained a small amount of grain -- those two bins basically contained only the cone, which were actually odd-shaped surfaces rather than well-defined cones.
Thirty hard red winter wheat varieties have been obtained that represent a range of production years from various locations. These samples will be analyzed in the laboratory for compressibility. These data will be used in a model for determining packing factors for a wide range of grains and bins is being developed that employs the differential form of Janssen's equation to estimate the pressure and in-bin bulk density for a given depth of grain in a bin.