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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Impacting Quality through Preservation, Enhancement, and Measurement of Grain and Plant Traits

Location: Stored Product Insect and Engineering Research

Project Number: 3020-43440-008-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Jun 16, 2015
End Date: Jun 15, 2020

Objective:
Quality and quantity of grain and their products can be enhanced by application of engineering principles to cultivar development, crop monitoring, harvesting, marketing, handling, storage, and processing. Our objectives are the following: 1. Develop technologies and techniques to rapidly evaluate grain quality that increase breeding efficiency and improve marketability. A. The application of automated single kernel deoxynivalenol (DON) analysis to aid breeders in studying Fusarium head blight (FHB) resistance mechanisms in wheat. B. Develop spectroscopic methods for rapid phenotyping to detect barley yellow dwarf (BYD) virus infection and resistance. C. Develop fourier-transform near-infrared (FT-NIR) spectroscopy methods to measure grain traits. D. Develop a rapid, non-destructive method to predict bread quality of hard red winter wheat (HRW) at the first point of sale. E. Develop imaging and near-infrared and visible spectroscopy instrumentation for sorting haploid and hybrid maize seeds. F. Develop integrated measurement systems for rapid and efficient phenotyping of seeds. G. Develop automated single kernel and bulk analysis methods to determine damage levels in wheat kernels caused by the Sunn pest, Eurygaster integriceps. 2. Enable stored grain management practices that enhance grain quality, mitigate effects of changing climates, and prevent insect infestations. A. Determine the accuracy, safety enhancements, and labor reduction of automated insect monitoring probe traps. B. Develop improved grain aeration and fumigation strategies for insect-pest control in stored grain. C. Determine the effect of time in storage and aeration on stored grain packing factors. Pre-harvest quality can be improved through rapid phenotyping technology that relates phenotypic traits to plant genetics. Post-harvest quality can be improved though methods to measure grain traits and methods to enhance storage conditions. Changing climates are expected to produce extreme weather conditions, leading to a need for accelerated breeding programs and improved storage technology to maintain and improve yields and quality. Our unique facilities include the ability to study climate change influences on plant physical, physiological and morphological status through our expertise in instrumentation combined with use of our grain storage facilities and access to greenhouses.

Approach:
United States farmers grow over 77 million metric tons of corn, wheat, soybeans, and other grains, worth over $115 billion annually, to supply the nation and the world with food, animal feed, and biofuels. Our goal is to improve U.S. grain quality and international competitiveness through the application of engineering principles to rapidly measure grain traits, and to maintain grain quality during storage. We propose to develop instruments to rapidly measure quality traits for inspection at the first point of grain delivery, for breeders when selecting traits for new lines, and for processors prior to grain buying or processing. We also propose to develop chemical-free technology to control insects and maintain quality during handling and storage. This research will lead to higher profits for the agriculture sector, higher-quality foods reaching consumers, and more food available for a growing world population.

Last Modified: 06/22/2017
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