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Automated instrumentation sorts grain kernels and insects.

Agricultural and electrical engineers at the USDA-ARS Grain Marketing and Production Research Center, Engineering Research Unit in cooperation with entomologists and cereal chemists have developed an automated single-kernel trait-selection system. The system feeds single kernels to a viewing area where a near-infrared spectrum is collected. The system was originally developed to measure wheat quality characteristics, such as protein, hardness, vitreousness, fungal damage, toxin levels, and sprout damage from the NIR spectrum. Kernels are then sorted at a speed of about one kernel per second based on user calibrations. Applications of this technology include selecting specific grain traits, such as high protein content, from early generation breeder samples to aid in development of cultivars with specific attributes. The system is also being used to select specific traits from samples, such as kernels with specific hardness characteristics, to study environment and genetic affects on quality traits. Other applications include selecting specific quality traits, such as sprout damage or toxin levels, to potentially aid inspectors in determining grade criteria, including those relating to food safety. The system is also finding applications in other grains, such as sorting millet by starch levels and sorting sorghum by hardness. An additional application of this technology includes sorting tsetse fly pupae, which are about the same size as grain kernels, by sex. In fact, the first commercial application of this technology was to automatically sort tsetse fly pupae by sex so that males could be sterilized and females returned to rearing colonies as part of the Foreign Agriculture Organization, International Atomic Energy Agency, Sterile Insect Technique fly eradication programs in Africa. The system was developed through the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with Perten Instruments, Springfield, Ill., and is currently being commercially produced by Perten Instruments, Stockholm, Sweden.


ASABE member Floyd E. Dowell,, USDA-ARS Grain Marketing and Production Research Center, Manhattan, KS, USA
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Title Annotation:Focus on Automation Technology
Author:Dowell, Floyd E.
Publication:Resource: Engineering & Technology for a Sustainable World
Date:Sep 1, 2005
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