New grain sorting system may improve farmers’ bottom line


Cigi’s exploration of a new sorting technology could increase the value of Canadian grains and add cash to farmers’ pockets, according to Cigi’s Director of Research and Business Development.

Over the next year Cigi will be working in collaboration with the University of Saskatchewan to evaluate the Swedish-invented Bomill system that uses chemical characterization to sort grains, says Rex Newkirk.

“This technology uses an NIR sensor that can rapidly analyze and identify each grain kernel to determine moisture, protein or hardness for example, and then segregates the kernels into quality certified fractions,” he says. “What we are mostly interested in is removing material that makes the grain feed grade so we end up with milling wheat which has greater value. It’s an expensive piece of equipment but we believe it has application in seed cleaning plants or on-farm.”

Current technology relies on colour for sorting so, for example, if a stream of wheat contains Ergot it will spit out the black seeds, Rex says. The Bomill system allows for more in-depth analysis at high speed which, according to equipment specifications, includes the ability to clean out wheat and barley heavily infested with fusarium.

The compact equipment, which can fit on a desk and process an impressive 3 tonnes of seeds per hour, was recently set up at the University of Saskatchewan research facility in North Battleford, Rex says. “The initial run of seed was very successful. Hard spring wheat was sorted out of durum and the nonhard vitreous kernels were also removed so the seedwas significantly upgraded.”

He says the Bomill can be moved for on-site demonstrations although for now it will remain in North Battleford. Cigi is working on the project with Dr. Tom Scott from the university who will conduct the research while Cigi will focus on understanding how the technology can benefit industry and to ensure the grain that is sorted meets quality specifications for milling.

The Bomill was developed in Sweden as a method of sorting wheat to meet market needs, he says. The Swedes also have had success working with malting barley which Cigi will also evaluate. The current project was initiated after Bomill representatives held a seminar on the new system at Cigi last year.

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Article originally published in e-publication, Spring 2012

See Dr. Tom Scott interviewed with the Bomill equipment in operation on CTV Saskatoon’s ‘Farmgate’ program at the following site. After opening the link, click on ‘Farmgate part two.’