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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Modeling Erosion of Particulate Matter

Modeling Erosion of Particulate Matter

By Ann Perry
August 5, 2011

A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientist and his research partners have combined models of wind erosion and regional climate patterns to simulate the sources and dispersion of particulate matter—such as tiny bits of soil and other substances—blowing in dust storms around Mexico City.

People who inhale particulates with a diameter of 10 micrometers or less (PM10) can develop respiratory problems, so public health officials are anxious to predict how these airborne pollutants are dispersed over time.

To read the complete story, follow this link:  http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2011/110805.htm

For more information contact: 
Dr. John Tatarko at john.tatarko@ars.usda.gov


Micro-Quality: Every Kernel Counts

by Elise Schafer | Feed&Grain | Posted 14 June 2011

Technology drives inovation.  In the grain industry, this adage can be applied to everything from automation to invoicing.  Notably, post-harvest grain quality measurement technology has proven to be a critical, ever-evolving tool for the industry.  Quick and accurage mycotoxin testing has improved feed safety and blending techniques; however, they are limited in their ability to provide a snapshot of quality attributes at an individual kernel level.

Follow this link to view the article as it appeared online in Feed & Grain:
http://www.feedandgrain.com/article/10265090/micro-quality-every-kernel-counts 
(goes to a non-USDA-ARS site)

For more information contact:
Dr. Paul Armstrong at paul.armstrong@ars.usda.gov
Dr. Floyd Dowell at floyd.dowell@ars.usda.gov
Dr. Tom Pearson at thomas.pearson@ars.usda.gov


Lincoln company develops new weapon for the weevil wars
By ART HOVEY / Lincoln Journal Star | Posted: Friday, January 28, 2011 8:00 am

Weevils of the world, beware.

A Lincoln company is teaming up with federal scientists on BugSmart software and an Insect-O-Graph device that can detect insect larvae inside kernels of wheat and rice.

If such ornery pests as the lesser grain borer or the rice weevil are discovered in meaningful numbers, those moving grain toward food production can use fumigation or some other means to deal with the problem before it spreads, said Tom Pearson, an engineer based in Manhattan, Kan., with USDA's Agricultural Research Service.  Without some means of assessing what's under the kernel surface, "the problem is you can't see the insects from the outside of the grain," Pearson said during a trip to Lincoln on Thursday.

For more information contact:
Dr. Tom Pearson at thomas.pearson@ars.usda.gov
Dr. Dan Brabec at daniel.brabec@ars.usda.gov

Follow this link to view a copy of the full article.
 

Follow this link to view the article as it appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star
http://journalstar.com/business/local/article_63b3ef66-357e-5078-94bd-db426ef6a96b.html * goes to a non-USDA-ARS site.


Chilly reception runs off unwanted bugs!

Turns out the "chilly reception" that runs off unwanted relatives works on bugs, too:

You might not think bugs snuggled into stored grain would care which way the breeze was blowing, but entomologist Frank Arthur and agricultural engineer Mark Casada at our ARS Center for Grain and Animal Health Research at Manhattan, Kan., have shown that which way you pull air through storage bins can make a big difference in your bug problems. 

 

Follow this link to view the full article posted by ARS News Service:

http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2010/100823.htm

 

ARS, Industry Cooperation Yields Device to Detect Insects in Stored Wheat

By Sharon Durham
June 24, 2010

Follow this link to the story:  http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2010/100624.htm


Monitoring mold by measuring CO2


 

Detecting mold in grain may best be done by trackinging carbon dioxide levels in bins using a monitor such as the one on the right. Development of mold in grain can be marked by sudden spikes in CO2 levels. Photos from IFT files/USDA-ARS

 


While farmers are accustomed to monitoring stored grain by moisture and temperature, monitoring the amount of carbon dioxide produced by the grain might be a better way to keep tabs on it.

Paul Armstrong, a researcher with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Manhattan, Kan., is studying the monitoring of carbon dioxide in stored grain.

Armstrong says monitoring CO2 levels might provide more accurate results to detect if mold is growing.

“It seems like it is simpler,” compared with taking temperature and moisture levels, he says.

As mold grows, Armstrong explains it gives off carbon dioxide. Therefore, if there is a CO2 spike, there is likely an increase of mold activity.

“Heat does not transmit through the grain well,” he says of using temperature sensors.

Temperature and moisture sensors might not take into account the grain history that might make it likely to have active mold growth, he notes.

Armstrong says the CO2 sensors can be placed in the headspace, near the exhaust fans or both.

Carbon dioxide sensors might be able to pick up hot spots of mold activity within a grain bin that other sensors may not be able to detect, he adds.

While he knows measuring CO2 levels works, Armstrong is refining what the numbers mean.

“We can tell you something is not good. We can’t tell you how bad it is,” he says of using CO2 levels to monitor grain condition.

Normal air concentrations of carbon dioxide run about 400 parts per million (ppm), Armstrong says. In stored grain, CO2 concentration can run up to 1,000 ppm.

If the sensors read more than 10,000 ppm, he says there is severe mold activity. If the readings are 2,000 to 3,000 ppm, there is some mold activity.

Most of Armstrong’s work has been with wheat in storage bins. However, in the past few years he has worked with The Andersons Inc. in Indiana monitoring CO2 levels in the company’s corn with hand-held sensors.

He also is working with the rice industry. Armstrong says the popcorn industry could be another market to monitor CO2 levels.

Overall, he says there is more work to be done to refine the numbers and how to interpret them.

It will be a few years before CO2 sensors will become available for commercially, Armstrong says, adding there is a need for more research in commercial settings to refine the numbers.

He says there is the possibility of adding a radio transmitter to the sensors that would transmit the readings electronically.

Armstrong also is researching how to measure and use information about relative humidity in stored grain and to preserve grain quality.


Sorter Detects and Removes Damaged Popcorn Kernels
By Sharon Durham
December 15, 2009

A device developed by an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist to sort wheat has been successfully used to detect and remove popcorn kernels that have been damaged by fungi.

ARS engineer Tom Pearson in Manhattan, Kan., developed the low-cost, high-speed device to inspect and separate a variety of grains based on color variations or slight defects. This technology was previously applied to sorting white and red wheat grains.

The system achieved 74 percent accuracy when removing popcorn with fungal damage called blue-eye, and was 91 percent accurate at recognizing undamaged popcorn, according to Pearson, at the ARS Center for Grain and Animal Health Research in Manhattan. The sorter, which uses a specially-designed camera linked to a processor, can handle 88 pounds of popcorn per hour. Pearson is currently designing a sorting machine that has much higher accuracy and can handle greater volumes.

Blue-eye damage in corn is characterized by a small blue spot of the popcorn germ and is caused by certain species of Aspergillus and Penicillin, which can grow under poor storage conditions and can affect up to 20 percent of the popcorn harvest. Blue-eye can be minimized if popcorn is dried before storage to reduce its internal moisture to no more than 14 percent.

The sorting device combines a color image sensor with what's called a field-programmable gate array, which is a programmable, electrical circuit that Pearson configured to execute image processing in real-time, without the need for an external computer.

The sorter also could be useful for detecting and removing other defective grains, such as insect-damaged grain, scab-damaged wheat, and bunted wheat. Parts for the system cost less than $2,000, suggesting that it may be economical to simultaneously operate several of the systems to keep up with processing plant rates.

This research was published in Computers and Electronics in Agriculture.

ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This research supports the USDA priorities of promoting international food security and ensuring food safety.

For more information contact:
Dr. Tom Pearson:  telephone: 785.776.2729; email: thomas.pearson@ars.usda.gov 

Original news article is located at:   http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2009/091215.htm


ARS Scientist Wins The Andersons Research Grant Program: Team Competition


Engineering Research Units’ Dr. Mark Casada is the recipient of The Andersons Research Grant: Team Competition.  Casada along with researchers at the Universityof Kentuckyproposed studying the “Incidence and Spread of Insects from Bucket Elevator Leg Boots.”  The elevator boot and pit area are important sources for insect pest infestation in a commercial elevator.   Knowledge of insect pest densities and movement of insects from an elevator boot and pit area into clean grain would be vital for a commercial elevator insect pest management program.   Grain elevator sites located in both Kansasand Kentuckywill be surveyed during two annual cycles for insect infestation levels in the elevator boot and pit areas.   Residual grain samples will be collected monthly and the adult insects will be removed from the samples by sieving and counted.   Insect movement tests will be run on seven experimental bucket elevator legs set up at the Grain Marketing Production Research Center pilot plant to run parallel treatments with different insect population densities.   Team members in Kentuckywill use the discrete element method to model the movement of insect infested kernels and live insects from the bucket elevator boot into the rest of the system.   Finally, partial budget analysis and stochastic dominance modeling will be used to compare grain treatment effects and provide a framework for the decision-making process in pest management programs of grain elevator facilities. 

For more information contact:

Dr. Mark Casada at mark.casada@ars.usda.gov 


How Far Does Dust Travel During a Wind Erosion Event?

Dust that becomes suspended as wind erodes a field can become deposited on nearby vegetation and have detrimental effects on plants and soil and water quality in the are.  This study was designed to determine how dust is deposited in regions that are from 0 to approximately 600 feet from an eroding field once a wind erosion event occurs.  We measured the levels of dust in suspension from a small field containing sandy lam soil after 8 separate dust storm events.  An average of 34% of the total dust that was suspended in the air from this field was deposited on plants within 600 feet of the eroding field.  Actual amounts of deposited dust ranged from 18.0 to 147.4 kg per square meter.  approximately 30% of the suspended dust was deposited on vegetation within approximately 150 feet from the eroding field but only 12 to 15% was deposited within the initial 30 feet.  These results suggest that the typical 30 ft-wide buffer strips of vegetation that are currently being used to try to trap the suspended dust leaving a field will not capture much of this dust. 

For more information contact:
Dr. Lawrence Hagen (retired) at:  hagen@weru.ksu.edu
or Dr. John Tatarko at:   john.tatarko@ars.usda.gov

 

Non-Destructive Prediction of Protein, Starch, & Moisture using NIR Spectroscopy

Starch, protein, and moisture are major constituents of the maize kernels and comprise approximately 80% of the kernel mass.  To select kernels with desirable composition traits for breeding, geneticists and breeders need seed composition information.  Standard lab methods are destructive which prohibits planting selected seeds that have the desired compositions.  A non destructive, near-infrared reflectance (NIR) spectroscopic instrument was used in this research to classify individual maize kernels.  The NIR instrument was used to determine starch, protein, and moisture content of individual maize seeds.  The NIR instrument collects both seed weight and spectral data at a rate of 4-6 s/kernel and NIR spectra alone at up to 10 kernels/s.  These results give significant improvements over previous single-kernel NIR systems.  The calibrations reported here make the NIR instrument a valuable and practical tool for high throughput measurement of the major chemical constituents in single maize kernels.

For more information contact: 
Dr. Paul Armstrong at paul.armstrong@ars.usda.gov   

 


SKCS technology Increases Accuracy Identifying Soft & Hard Wheat Grown in Pacific Northwest

 

Wheat kernel hardness is a measure of the kernel texture and an important indication of baking qualities of flour produced from the wheat.   While wheat can have a broad range of hardness values, there are two main categories or classes, of wheat based on hardness – soft and hard.   It is desirable to market and trade wheat of a pure hardness class as it will have more predictable end use qualities.

 

One of the most commonly used methods for measuring wheat hardness and determining purity of hardness classes in loads of wheat is the Single Kernel Characteristic System (SKCS).   However, for some varieties of wheat, particularly those grown in the Pacific Northwest, the SKCS has trouble distinguishing kernels from hard and soft classes.   This leads to errors in determining if a sample is pure hard wheat, pure soft wheat, or a mixture.

 

This research focused on improving the accuracy of the SKCS for wheat grown in the Pacific Northwestby use of more modern digital signal processing of the data that the SKCS already produces and by combining images with the SKCS.   It was found that integrating new signal processing techniques into the SKCS software can reduce in half the errors made by the SKCS.   By adding data extracted from images of kernels, the errors can be reduced by more than 70%.

 

This technology should help wheat inspectors to determine the proper quality of a load of wheat, expecially at export terminals.   This will help improve the quality and international competitiveness of wheat produced in the United States.

 

Reprinted from GMPRC Research Kernels, February 2008 issue.

 

For more information contact:

Dr. Tom Pearsonat thomas.pearson@ars.usda.gov

 

From Granaries to Insectaries: NIR Technology Helps Human Health


Research leader Floyd Dowell examines adult tsetse fly specimens to determine their sex.

"Since adult insects are about the same size as kernels, we didn't have to change the design settings used by the instrument for measuring grains," he says. "But we did have to hand-place the insects into it." Then the instrument accurately identified the species of mosquito in just seconds.

Attempts to identify malaria-infected mosquitoes weren't as successful, but Wirtz says he hasn't given up on that possibility yet.

"Our goal," he says, "is to use the technology being developed by ARS to someday determine the species, age, and infection status of mosquitoes. This would be a huge benefit for controlling malaria, West Nile virus, and other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes."

Energized by the mosquito work, Benedict and Wirtz wanted to see whether NIR could help distinguish between male and female pupae of the tsetse fly—an insect wreaking havoc in 37 countries in Africa. Coincidentally, a tsetse fly pupa is about the same size as a grain kernel and could be fed automatically through the NIR sorting system.

The tsetse fly carries the trypanosome parasite, which causes sleeping sickness in humans and nagana in livestock. Without medical treatment, sleeping sickness—or trypanosomiasis—is always fatal. According to the World Health Organization, more than 60 million people, mainly in rural and agricultural areas of afflicted African regions, are at risk.

Benedict thought NIR spectroscopy could help refine the sterile insect technique (SIT) that he was helping researchers with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) pursue to suppress tsetse fly numbers in ravaged parts of Africa.

Female tsetse fly specimen
(Glossina spp.).

James Baker, an ARS entomologist and colleague of Throne's, first thought to use NIR spectroscopy for singling out bug-infested kernels. "Insects inside of grains are one of the hardest defects to detect," he says. "For instance, a female grain weevil will bore into a wheat kernel to lay an egg. She'll seal the opening with a tiny, gelatinous plug. The mark left behind is hard to see with the naked eye."

NIR spectroscopy seemed a natural tool for tackling this job, since its light zeroes in on molecules made up of nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen within biological materials. Grains and insects have different amounts and combinations of these molecules.

Research leader James
Throne and engineer
Elizabeth Maghirang place tsetse fly pupae in an automated scanning and sorting system.

"We knew NIR spectroscopy was useful for analyzing the protein inside grains, so I wondered if it couldn't detect developing insects, too," Baker says. He and Throne both work at the ARS Grain Marketing and Production Research Center in Manhattan, Kansas.

Back at the meeting, someone else—with a different set of research objectives—was listening to Throne's talk. But his interest wasn't in grains or their larval stowaways. Robert Wirtz, who heads the Entomological Branch of the Division of Parasitic Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, had his sights on another pest—one that leaves a more direct mark on human health and well-being.

Identifying Malaria Carriers

Wirtz wondered if the NIR-based technology could help identify mosquitoes infected with the malaria parasite.  "Researchers used to have to dissect the insects," he says, "and remove and analyze the salivary glands to see whether they were infected." The ARS technology could possibly speed this critical identification process. He thought it might also be able to distinguish between different species of the genus Anopheles that carry the malaria-causing parasite. "There are species of Anopheles mosquitoes with different levels of significance in disease transmission," Wirtz explains. "We hoped the NIR technology could tell apart these look-alike species."

According to CDC entomologist Mark Benedict, another challenge is determining how old the mosquitoes are, since age plays an important role in disease transmission. "It takes time for mosquitoes to become infected," he says. "With older populations, there's more potential for transmission."

Floyd Dowell, ARS engineer and chief architect of the NIR sorting instrument, was able to find extra time to pursue this unexpected offshoot of his research. But now he would be working with living, breathing insects—instead of the usual, easy-to-handle kernels of grain.  "Since adult insects are about the same size as kernels, we didn't have to change the design settings used by the instrument for measuring grains," he says. "But we did have to hand-place the insects into it."  Then the instrument accurately identified the species of mosquito in just seconds.

Attempts to identify malaria-infected mosquitoes weren't as successful, but Wirtz says he hasn't given up on that possibility yet.  "Our goal," he says, "is to use the technology being developed by ARS to someday determine the species, age, and infection status of mosquitoes. This would be a huge benefit for controlling malaria, West Nile virus, and other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes."

Energized by the mosquito work, Benedict and Wirtz wanted to see whether NIR could help distinguish between male and female pupae of the tsetse fly—an insect wreaking havoc in 37 countries in Africa. Coincidentally, a tsetse fly pupa is about the same size as a grain kernel and could be fed automatically through the NIR sorting system.

The tsetse fly carries the trypanosome parasite, which causes sleeping sickness in humans and nagana in livestock. Without medical treatment, sleeping sickness—or trypanosomiasis—is always fatal. According to the World Health Organization, more than 60 million people, mainly in rural and agricultural areas of afflicted African regions, are at risk.

Benedict thought NIR spectroscopy could help refine the sterile insect technique (SIT) that he was helping researchers with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) pursue to suppress tsetse fly numbers in ravaged parts of Africa.

We knew NIR spectroscopy was useful for analyzing the protein inside grains, so I wondered if it couldn't detect developing insects, too," Baker says. He and Throne both work at the ARS Grain Marketing and Production Research Center in Manhattan, Kansas.

Back at the meeting, someone else—with a different set of research objectives—was listening to Throne's talk. But his interest wasn't in grains or their larval stowaways. Robert Wirtz, who heads the Entomological Branch of the Division of Parasitic Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, had his sights on another pest—one that leaves a more direct mark on human health and well-being.

Identifying Malaria Carriers

Wirtz wondered if the NIR-based technology could help identify mosquitoes infected with the malaria parasite.  "Researchers used to have to dissect the insects," he says, "and remove and analyze the salivary glands to see whether they were infected." The ARS technology could possibly speed this critical identification process. He thought it might also be able to distinguish between different species of the genus Anopheles that carry the malaria-causing parasite. "There are species of Anopheles mosquitoes with different levels of significance in disease transmission," Wirtz explains. "We hoped the NIR technology could tell apart these look-alike species."

According to CDC entomologist Mark Benedict, another challenge is determining how old the mosquitoes are, since age plays an important role in disease transmission. "It takes time for mosquitoes to become infected," he says. "With older populations, there's more potential for transmission."

Floyd Dowell, ARS engineer and chief architect of the NIR sorting instrument, was able to find extra time to pursue this unexpected offshoot of his research. But now he would be working with living, breathing insects—instead of the usual, easy-to-handle kernels of grain.  "Since adult insects are about the same size as kernels, we didn't have to change the design settings used by the instrument for measuring grains," he says. "But we did have to hand-place the insects into it." Then the instrument accurately identified the species of mosquito in just seconds.

Attempts to identify malaria-infected mosquitoes weren't as successful, but Wirtz says he hasn't given up on that possibility yet. "Our goal," he says, "is to use the technology being developed by ARS to someday determine the species, age, and infection status of mosquitoes. This would be a huge benefit for controlling malaria, West Nile virus, and other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes."

Energized by the mosquito work, Benedict and Wirtz wanted to see whether NIR could help distinguish between male and female pupae of the tsetse fly—an insect wreaking havoc in 37 countries in Africa. Coincidentally, a tsetse fly pupa is about the same size as a grain kernel and could be fed automatically through the NIR sorting system.

The tsetse fly carries the trypanosome parasite, which causes sleeping sickness in humans and nagana in livestock. Without medical treatment, sleeping sickness—or trypanosomiasis—is always fatal. According to the World Health Organization, more than 60 million people, mainly in rural and agricultural areas of afflicted African regions, are at risk.

Benedict thought NIR spectroscopy could help refine the sterile insect technique (SIT) that he was helping researchers with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) pursue to suppress tsetse fly numbers in ravaged parts of Africa.

From Screwworms to Tsetse Flies

SIT was pioneered by another ARS entomologist, the late Edward F. Knipling, in the 1950s as an alternative to conventional pesticides. Often described as "birth control for insects," this approach knocks down problem insect populations by releasing large numbers of sterilized males, which behave and mate like other males, but aren't able to fertilize eggs. Over time and with continual releases, the targeted insect population dwindles and ultimately crashes. The technique was first used to rid North America of livestock-parasitizing screwworm flies.

But the SIT for tsetse needed a more rapid way to separate male and female flies. Males must be pulled aside to be irradiated, and females are needed to spawn future generations. Researchers also want to avoid accidentally mixing females with the males to be released, since females have a much greater potential to carry disease.  "Initially, when telling the sexes apart, we had to look at every adult by hand after it emerged," says Benedict. "It was very time-consuming."

To gain access to thousands of tsetse fly pupae, Dowell traveled to Seibersdorf
, Austria, in January 2004 to the FAO-IAEA Agriculture and Biotechnology Laboratory. He and the others wanted to see how soon in the insect's development NIR could distinguish between males and females. The earlier the better, as researchers need ample time to irradiate the males and transport them to strategic release sites. "We thought that we could tell them apart at 1 day before their emergence as adults—but probably not at 20 days before emergence, when the pupae are less developed," Dowell says. As it turned out, they could sex them best at 5 days before the pupae emerge as adults. At that point, the differences in reflected light, or spectra, of female and male pupae were most apparent.

"These differences might be explained by changes in cuticle thickness or by ovarian development in the females," Dowell speculates. "We can show without a doubt that there are differences between males and females, but unfortunately we lack the science to explain why. This will be a topic of future research if we can continue working in this area."

According to ARS scientists, the NIR technology may work better for tsetse fly sex separation than for its original, intended use in grains. FAO-IAEA has purchased an automated NIR sorting instrument and will begin routinely sorting tsetse fly pupae in 2005.

"This is exciting technology and has lots of potential impact in the grain industry and the field of entomology—in addition to the potential human impact, particularly in underdeveloped countries," says Dowell.—By Erin K. Peabody, Agricultural Research Service Information Staff.

"From Granaries to Insectaries: NIR Technology Helps Human Health" was published in the March 2005 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Form more information contact :
Dr. Floyd Dowell at floyd.dowell@ars.usda.gov or
Dr. James Throne at james.throne@ars.usda.gov


Insects Play Hide and Seek in Wheat


Hidden insect infestations in wheat are very hard to detect and they can degrade the end-use quality and decrease the value of infested shipments. We have developed the software for the Perten SKCS 4100 that will allow it to detect wheat kernels that have hidden infestation. Live insect detection accuracy rates were 25% for kernels with small larvae, 62% for kernels with medium-sized larvae, 87% for kernels with large larvae, and 88% for kernels with pupae. The false positive error rate (selecting sound kernels as infected) was 0.5% or less depending on the wheat class.

For more information contact:
Dr. Tom Pearson at: thomas.pearson@ars.usda.gov

 

Near-Infrared Spectroscopy Detects Honey Bee Queen Insemination


The widespread honey bee colony mortality known as Colony Collapse Disorder may be related to queen fertility and pathogens.  A rapid, non-invasive method for assessing bee fertility and health would be useful in studies of affected bee colonies.  Investigators examined the application of near-infrared spectroscopy to determining queen fertility and the presence of pathogens.  The abdomens of honey bee queens, the heads of worker bees and the ventriculi of worker bees were analyzed by visible and near-infrared spectroscopy.

Mated honey bee queens could be distinguished from virgin queens by their spectra with 100 percent accuracy.  Also, the heads of worker bees taken from the brood nest of a hive had reflectance spectra that differed from those of flying workers taken from the hive entrance.  These spectra could be used with about 85 percent accuracy to predict whether bees were from the brood nest or were flying bees.  However, researchers were not able to determine the severity of Nosema apis infection in worker ventriculi.  This technology can be useful to rapidly and non-destructively determine the honey bee characteristics as scientists attempt to understand the Colony Collapse Disorder phenomenon. 

For more information contact:
Dr. Floyd Dowell at floyd.dowell@ars.usda.gov


Sensor offers a Promising Means to Determine the Moisture Content of Grain During Storage or Transportation in Cargo Holds

A low-cost moisture sensor was designed for measruing moisture content and temperature of agricultural commodities.  The capacitive sensor was mounted on the end of hand-held probes and in 1.5 liter canisters and tested in wheat and corn over a range of moisture contents from approximately 1 percent to 20 percent.  The sensor response was a consistent and sensitive function of the moisture content of grain for these applications.

The sensor offers a promising means to determine the moisture content of grain during storage or transportation in cargo holds.  The sensor is water-tight and constructed with corrosion-resistant materials that allow moisture content and temperature measurements to also be made of industrial materials, chemicals, and fuels.  The sensor may also be supported on cables in grain storage bins to acquire continuous, in situ data for stored grain management and the control of aeration and low-temperature drying systems.

For more information contact:
Dr. Mark Casada at mark.casada@ars.usda.gov  

Pulsewave™ Technology Reduces Grain to Flour at Lower Energy Costs


Resonance destruction occurs when the vibration of a certain material exceeds its natural resonance frequency, such as when the Tacoma Narrows Bridge failed in 1940.   This research reports the use of this resonance destruction phenomenon to process grain.   In cooperation with Dr. Jeff Gwirtz, KSU, we used a Pulsewave™   Technology machine with a capacity range of 500-8,000 pounds per hour to reduce wheat grain to flour.   The Pulsewave™ Technology has the ability to reduce a very high percentage of clean endosperm into flour in a single pass and thus potentially uses significantly less energy than a conventional mill.   This technology causes grain to break into fractions differently than a conventional mill, and thus produces flour with different, possibly superior, quality traits.

 

For more information contact:
Dr. Floyd Dowell at floyd.dowell@ars.usda.gov


Last Modified: 8/8/2011