Grain elevator bottlenecks and mycotoxin testing

Each harvest season, grain elevators experience a race to the finish line. High volumes of trucks arrive to be weighed, grains are tested for mycotoxins, and the elevator transfers the tested grain into silos. Throughout this race, elevators can be slowed by all kinds of bottlenecks.

On average, a grain elevator can handle 10,000 bushels an hour. The average semi-truck load carries approximately 1,000 bushels, meaning the optimal processing rate would be 10 trucks per hour — six minutes per truck. Therefore, if a piece of the process takes longer than six minutes to conduct, it’s creating a bottleneck.

Some bottlenecks occur by chance, like when numerous farmers arrive with truck loads simultaneously. Other bottlenecks, like those caused when grain is screened for mycotoxins, are unintended consequences stemming from the necessary solutions to bigger problems. In other words, they’re unavoidable.

As Dr. Barry E. Prentice explains, “the most important bottlenecks affecting the bulk system are information incompatibility and safety/quality regulations.”

Although testing grain is the source of a grain elevator bottleneck, forgoing testing is much more costly than the bottleneck itself. Testing is the ultimate line of defense against mycotoxin contamination, which has effects that can cause major problems when not taken care of.

Failing a quality control check could lead to a contract becoming unfulfilled due to grain that doesn’t meet specifications, damaging the reputation of those involved. If contaminated grain does get through, it could be costly for the end-user — for example, a dairyman whose cows ingest feed with high aflatoxin will result in contamination of M1, which may lead to a tanker of milk being rejected by the processor — and a loss to the dairy producer.

Using a GIPSA performance-verified rapid mycotoxin test kit can help alleviate the stress of potentially contaminated grains. Rapid tests deliver results within minutes, helping to clear through samples before bottlenecks become too severe. With these tools, grain elevators and feed mills can go forth with sustainable, successful operations.

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