Proper characterization of grain and seed quality is critically important for germplasm development, grain collection and grain processing. Grain quality can mean different things to different people depending upon the type of grain or seed and its intended use. Several important factors affect grain quality, including phenotypic expression, environmental conditions, harvesting and handling equipment, drying systems, storage management practices, and transportation procedures. Grain quality includes three main categories covering a variety of characteristics:
- Compositional characteristics — proximates analyses, including moisture, protein, oil, starch, fatty acid and amino acid content can be successfully measure using quantitative models. Minerals and trace element detection in plants are not good candidates for NIR measurement.
- Physical characteristics – such as test weight, kernel size, total damaged kernels, heat damage, broken kernels, stress cracking, breakage susceptibility1 – in general these characteristics are not directly measured by NIR, but may be able to be related to grain composition, thus indirectly measured.
- Intrinsic/processing capability — milling yield, viscosity, rheologic parameters, hardness, density, feed value, viability, storability1 – these parameters are also related to grain composition so they can be determined using quantitative models.
1 Grain Quality Task Force. Fact Sheet #23. 1995. Purdue University, Cooperative Extension Service, West Lafayette, IN.
Near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy has been a trusted analytical method in the agronomy sciences for years. It is a highly cost effective testing process, offering an alternative to ongoing expensive, and time consuming, laboratory-based wet chemistry. ASD’s portable and online NIR technology systems can be implemented at numerous points throughout the grain or seed production process where and when analysis is most beneficial to your processes:
- Plant breeders can identify nursery entries with the most desirale characteristics
- Grain processing can use ASD systems to assure product quality and consistency and/or conformity to product requirements
- Grain brokers and handlers can measure nutritional components such as oil, protein, and moisture to assure proper identity preservation of contracted grain production
- Feed and food producers can use ASD systems to determine the composition of both the raw materials used in their processes and to measure products that they are producing to assure consistent quality.
- Ethanol producers can use ASD systems to verify the compositon of grain used in their process and to determine composition of co-products and by-products such as distiller’s dried grains including solulables (DDGS)
ASD’s dependable, research-grade spectrometers are ideal for use in crop breeding programs for enhancing the qualities and nutritional value of grains and other crops. Additionally, ASD’s spectroscopy systems are environmentally friendly and extremely well suited for use at grain collection locations, non-destructive monitoring of quality during processing, and final product verification in the manufacturing environment. The wider spectral wavelength range of ASD's Vis/NIR technology more thoroughly analyzes samples for various constituents and their concentrations including oil, protein, fatty acids such as oleic and linoleic, and amino acids such as lysine and methionine, in whole grain and seed. Because of the variance that occurs in an uncontrolled environment, larger data sets obtained through the added Visible and Third Overtone Regions are key in making the calibration model more robust.
The addition of ASD’s Vis/NIR technology can be used to greatly increase process controls through more frequent testing, and as such can lead to improved quality and increased yield levels. At the same time, it can significantly reduce the risk of yield that doesn’t meet quality standards.
Learn more about using ASD instruments for grain and seed analysis.