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Iowa Grain Quality Initiative Stresses Quality Control Measures in Grain

Increased grain storage, new hybridized seed lines and the wide nutritional measurements from grain by-products has led the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative at Iowa State University to focus on quality control projects in 2009-2010.

“The quality issues of the 2008 corn crop continue as mold-damaged corn is coming out of storage and onto the market,” says Dr. Charles Hurburgh, professor in Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering and director of the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative. “Elevators report that they are still receiving 15-17% moisture corn in deteriorating condition, which will add to last winter’s problems with temporary piles and flat storages. Now we are in a similiar situation of expecting high moisture and delayed maturing corn in 2009.”

The Iowa Grain Quality Initiative has released bulletins on grain storage for producers and elevators alike. Hurburgh consults regarding on-farm and piled storage and quality measures that can be implemented to preserve grain quality. Storage information is available here.

In another quality management project, Hurburgh and others in the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative are developing calibrations for nutritional factors in corn, distillers grains and soybean meal. “Because there are no standardized measurements for these co-products at this point, we found a wide variety in the nutrients of co-products from plant to plant,” Hurburgh said. “The ability to rapidly measure nutrients in these feed ingredients gives producers a better understanding of the consistency of the materials, leading to more efficient uses.” 

As processing plants modify processes with microwave drying, fractionation, super-critical fluid oil extraction, etc., the resulting co-products will need to be characterized and routinely analyzed for nutrients.  In 2009-2010, VAAP will offer measurement services to the corn and soybean processing industry.

Additional quality projects will update a storage training module, a biosecurity training program and decision spreadsheets on the costs of storage construction. The Grain Quality Initiative was the organizer of an International Traceability Conference, held in Iowa in late June 2009. Conference summary and presentations on traceability are available here.

For additional information regarding on-farm storage of grain or co-product analyzing, visit the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative web site at