Infrared grain sorters to be utilized by Canadian feed mill

Wheat_HeadScab_blog1New infrared grain sorting technology will soon be utilized by one Canadian feed mill in an effort to remove grains infected with fusarium head blight, or ergot, from crops before they are made into animal feed.

As described in a recent article, this will increase the overall grade and quality of grains, which allows sales into higher-volume markets and is expected to increase the value of Manitoba grains by C$4 million ($3.2 million USD) each year. To install the new infrared grain sorters at the feed mill in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, the company will receive C$1.1 million from the Canadian government and will be the only one in the country using infrared grain sorting technology.

Fusarium head blight, or scab, is a destructive disease of wheat, barley and corn around the world and causes yield loss, low test weights, low seed germination and contamination of grain with mycotoxins. In 2014, Manitoba wheat farmers lost an estimated C$400 million in revenue due to fusarium damage, and ergot fungus, which can become a major problem with wet growing conditions. The toxins it produces cannot be entirely removed during processing and can be dangerous for animals and humans to consume.

“The sourcing of clean high quality grain has become a major issue in our region. In many cases these grains are shipped to markets over long distances, which also decreases the margin potential for our growers,” Jason McNaughton, president and general manager of the company to receive the equipment, said in the article. “This investment by our company and governments is a key step in reclaiming the value of local crops while maintaining the integrity of the food we produce.”

Currently, grains infected with these diseases either sell at a greatly reduced price or, in extreme cases, end up in landfills. This investment in a more efficient sorting and cleaning process made possible with this infrared technology will reduce grain waste by 24,000 tonnes (approximately 27,000 tons) every year in Manitoba.

The ministers noted in the article that this investment is part of the Grain Innovation Hub, which was announced by the Canada and Manitoba governments in May 2014. Its goal is to leverage C$33 million in government and industry funding to re-establish Manitoba as a leader in grain research, production and processing.

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