Monday, April 10, 2006

How Wheat Kernels "Sing" Is a Sign of Their Quality

How do you find the "bad" seeds in the bunch? According to Thomas Pearson, a scientist with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), you listen very closely.

Pearson--who’s an agricultural engineer at the agency’s Grain Marketing and Production Research Center in Manhattan, Kan.--has developed an acoustics-based sorter that can distinguish between "clean" wheat kernels and those that have been nibbled on and spoiled by insects.The idea behind the novel technology is simple.

A wheat kernel that’s whole and intact will make a slightly different, high-pitched "ping" when striking a steel plate than the sound made by a kernel that’s been tunneled through by an insect.

Because individual kernels are so small, lightweight and hard, any acoustic energy they emit is inaudible to human ears. So, Pearson made sure to outfit his sorting system with a special microphone that can pick up ultra-sonic sounds at exceptionally high frequencies.After assessing the kernels’ acoustic qualities, the sorter will shunt the insect-damaged wheat kernels from a random sample into one bin, and send "acceptable" kernels into another.

It can even pinpoint kernels with tiny insect larvae hiding inside them, a feat that, for grain inspectors, is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.Every year, more than $1.5 billion worth of U.S. wheat and other grains must be discarded or downgraded because of post-harvest damage by insect pests.

Despite preventive measures, the pests--ranging from moth larvae to small flour beetles--still manage to find their way into grain storage facilities.

Now, most grain inspectors must laboriously sift through samples of grain by hand, relying on the naked eye to spot wheat kernels that have been spoiled by insects. It can take more than 20 minutes to examine a 100-gram sample, or one weighing about one-quarter of a pound.

Pearson’s sorter can analyze the same sample in about 75 seconds, or at a rate of 40 kernels per second. And it successfully detects damaged kernels 87 percent of the time.The technology--which would undoubtedly lead to more accurate estimates of insect damage in wheat loads--is now ready for a private-sector partner to help bring it to market.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief, scientific research agency.* This is one of the news reports that ARS Information distributes to subscribers on weekdays.* Start, stop or change an e-mail subscription at www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/subscribe.htm* NewsService@ars.usda.gov www.ars.usda.gov/news* Phone (301) 504-1638 fax (301) 504-1486",0]

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AGRI-INFO/APRIL 10, 2006



TITLE: DETERMINING WHEAT KERNELS’ QUALITY


ALAM BA NINYO KUNG PAANO NIYO MALALAMAN ANG MASAMANG KALIDAD NG BUTO NG TRIGO O WHEAT?

AYON KAY SCIENTIST THOMAS PEARSON, ISANG AGRICULTURAL ENGINEER, KAILANGAN LAMANG NA PAKINGGAN KUNG ANO ANG TUNOG NG WHEAT KERNEL NA ITO.

SA KATUNAYAN NAKAGAWA SI PEARSON NG ACOUSTICS-BASED SORTER NA KAYANG TUKUYIN ANG MALINIS NA WHEAT KERNELS AT ANG MGA BUTO NA SINIRA O BINUTAS NG MGA INSEKTO O PESTE.

ANG WHEAT KERNEL NA BUO AT WALANG PROBLEMA AY MERONG HIGH-PITCHED “PING” SOUND KAPAG ITO AY IBINATO SA STEEL PLATE, MALAKI ANG PAGKAKAIBA SA TUNOG NA MARIRINIG SA BUTO NA BINUTAS NG INSEKTO.

DAHIL SA ANG WHEAT KERNEL AY MASYADONG MALILIIT, MAGAAN AT MATIGAS, HINDI KAYANG MAPAKINGGAN NG ATING TENGA ANG TUNOG NITO, ITO ANG DAHILAN KUNG BAKIT NAKAGAWA NG SORTING SYSTEM SI PEARSON NA MERONG SPECIAL MICROPHONE.

ANG SPECIAL MICROPHONE NA ITO AY MAY KAKAYANANG MASAGAP ANG TINATAWAG NA ULTRA-SONIC SOUND SA NAPAKATAAS NA FREQUENCY.

PAGKATAPOS NA MASURING MABUTI ANG ACOUSTIC QUALITY NG WHEAT KERNEL, ANG MGA BUTONG SINIRA NG INSEKTO AY OTOMATIKONG ILALAGAY SA ISANG LALAGYAN NG MGA BAD SEEDS AT ANG MGA MAGANG KALIDAD NAMAN SA ISA PANG LALAGYAN.

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