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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.
2011 Project Description
This research is part of a larger, nationwide project to refine and validate a procedure with known accuracy, based on measurable physical parameters, for determining the packing of grains within upright storage structures. Because grain is somewhat compressible when subjected to the cumulative weight exerted from the material above, accurate packing factors are required to determine the mass of grain in storage from bin dimensions and test weights.
Inventory control is critical for stored grain managers due to financial aspects (auditing by state agencies) and for the future utilization of quality management systems. The major variables affecting stored grain packing are grain type, moisture content, test weight, internal friction, and bin wall material, geometry, and dimensions. Variation across different regions of the U.S. must be investigated as well as other minor factors.
A preliminary 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. In the larger project, this model will be calibrated and validated by measuring packing factors for selected grains in bins in all of the major grain producing regions of the U.S. As part of that nationwide effort, the Cooperator will measure packing factors in selected states in reasonable proximity to their locations.
Improved estimates of the compressibility of grains as a function of overburden pressure will be obtained using a laboratory apparatus designed to simulate internal pressure from various depths of overbearing grain. Field measurements of packing factors will be obtained by measuring the height of grain in bins of known dimensions and wall materials as they are filled and/or discharged with a measured mass of grain.
Field Pack Factor Data - Seventeen farm bins from four locations were measured near Owensboro and Elizabethtown, Kentucky. The bins contained shelled white corn and were not leveled bins for measuring. Three groups of personnel measured several of the bins to allow a comparison amongst operators. However, we are still waiting for the ticket sale data from farm bins to obtain data on test weight and net load. Bin diameters ranged from 6 to 24 m (20 to 78 ft) and eave heights ranged from 6 to 21 m (21 to 70 ft).
A new versatile device was developed for measuring grain bin volumes with both horizontal and vertical angles without interfering with the laser meter operation.
Laboratory Compressibility Data - Prior to running compressibility tests, three laboratory compressibility testers were evaluated in preliminary tests with SRW wheat and with pellets. The SRW wheat samples (10.5% MC and 60.5 lb/bu) were tested using pressure ranges from 0.9 to 19.9 psi.
The wheat samples were subjected to the following different treatments: different operators, different compressibility test boxes, and different test dates. There were differences with different treatments, especially for box 1. Other than box 1, the differences were small and represented the expected variation for these treatments. The increase in pressure (from 0.9 to 19.9 psi) increased the packing factor from approximately 2.5% to 8% for the current tests, with the exception of Box 1. Based on these results Box 1 was removed from the experiments and all subsequent tests will be conducted with the other two boxes, which displayed consistent results for different operators and different test dates.
Boac, J.M., R. Bhadra, M.E. Casada, M.D. Montross, S.A. Thompson. S.G. McNeill, R.G. Maghirang, E. Haque. 2011. Stored grain packing factors: field measurements for wheat and corn. ASABE Paper No. 1111426 presented at ASABE AIM, August 7-10, Louisville, Ky.
Casada, M.E., S.A. Thompson, P.R. Armstrong, S.G. McNeill, M.D. Montross, J. Dyck, R. Larson. 2011. Loads on monitoring cables during grain bin loading and unloading. ASABE Paper No. 1111655 presented at ASABE AIM, August 7-10, Louisville, Ky.
Montross, M., W. Adams, Mathis, L., S. McNeill, M. Sama, S. Thompson, J. Boac, M. Casada. 2011. Laboratory data with hard red winter wheat to support new grain packing factors. ASABE Paper No. 1111337 presented at ASABE AIM, August 7-10, Louisville, Ky.