Seed Color Sorters to Improve Quality of Corn & Soybean on Indiana Farms
The Hi-Tech Machine Altering Seed Quality and Appearance Forever
A machine that sees 16 million colors and has tools like LED lighting, multiple high-res. cameras, glass wipers, and can shoot 92 different puffs of air. What a strikingly wondrous machine worth learning about! Let’s follow along the ride a discolored or misshapen seed takes. As it comes down a shoot at the speed of a blur the discard seeds ride ends abruptly with a swift camera flash and a powerful puff of air. This sends the seed out of the flow from his friends to a segregated bin. We have observed several upgrades in agriculture over the years. One of my personnel favorites hails from the seed production industry, the Color Sorter. Before we learn about the Color/Size Sorter lets dive into the background of how the seed gets to this point.
The Background to Seed Production
A bag of seed corn is an investment in the overall potential of your farm’s profit. Weather and inputs are just as important in making it a bumper crop. From the field research where the hybrid has been made and tested the seed makes its way to the production facility. At this point the seed is considered Foundation Seed (seed developed by plant breeders). This seed can be used to make more Foundation seed or Registered Seed (used for large scale production).
The seed production company goes out to hand-picked farmers and contracts an agreed-upon number of acres that will be set aside to grow a hybrid or hybrids of corn and varieties of soybeans. It is estimated that there are 578,000 acres of corn production and 1.5 Million acres of soybean production grown each year. The farmer then buys the seed and works with the seed production company to find which hybrid he or she will be growing. The key here is that the seed production team is able to work with sales to understand and accurately forecast sales per product 2 years in advance due to needing to know before planting the seed production seed. A feat that is easier said than done! There are a lot of moving pieces once the production seed has been harvested. It is brought into the production facility and depending on soybeans or corn treated somewhat differently.
The corn is brought in to the plant on the ear somewhere around 35% moisture. This ensures greater quality seed with less damage to the germ (part of seed where new plants grow). The ear is run through a husking machine where they remove the husks. After the ear runs up a conveyor into a dryer where it is dried down to around 13%. After dried to the ideal moisture the corn ear is run through the sheller to remove the cob. A cleaner gets rid of unneeded dust and bi-product. The corn seed will be color sorted, sized, gravity sorted, and put in a bin to be treated and packaged in a paper bag or a box. Here is a great older video of how this is done.
Beans are brought to the plant by farmers by the truckload at harvest or scheduled in for delivery from October through March. The beans run through a cleaner where weed seed, dust, stems and beans to large/small to package are sifted out. The next step is an exciting new technology called a Color Sorter. After the color sorter the beans may be sent to the bin for packaging, sent to the bin for treating, or in some cases ran across a gravity table to remove any remaining small material out of the product. From there the soybean seed is ready to be put in a bag, mini-bag/tote, or a box to be transported to the farm.
What is a Color Sorter?
A color sorter is a machine that sorts the product by color to determine what product should be kept and what should be thrown away. At the color sorter the seed is run through shoots and passes cameras that are taking pictures multiple times a second. Then air is used by air valves in the machine to produce a puff of air. This puff of air shoots unwanted stems, discolored seed, and misshapen seed out of the good product.
Above is the discarded product from the color sorter. This was a Seedlot (trackable amount of seed given an ID number) of beans that came in with questionable seed quality. This seed was delivered containing purple seed stain, bleeding hilum, and rotten seed. You can learn more about those diseases here. The color sorter was working overtime after dialing in the parameters of what was good and what was to be thrown away. What an amazing smart machine. See the below video for a color sorter sorting beans.
This brand is the company I was familiar with running and installing. There are several different types and brands out there. This machine is now common in most seed cleaning facilities.
Here is an example of running corn through the color sorter as well. Truly amazing!
Previously spirals were used to sort out the uneven seed (example of one running below). The Problem with spirals was that discolored infected seed did not always weigh any different than the good seed you wanted to keep. Also, with a color sorter you have the ability to decrease the amount of discard. The operator is able to keep more acceptable seed and throw out more undesirable seed. In turn this translates into a decrease in the amount of grain needed to clean to get the quantity needed of bags of corn or soybeans.
About Budreau Ag, we’re here to change the way you Experience Seedsmanship. We work to simplify the buying process. Our goal is to challenge your current way of increasing yield and profitability on your farm. To learn more about seed production, how to increase yield, and to Experience high-quality Seedsmanship call Brent Budreau at (765) 430-8100 or send him an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Budreau Ag can also be found at www.budreau-ag.com and The Furrow a new Youtube channel focused on where it all starts the seed furrow.