Real-time and continuous NIR analysis of grains
Near infrared spectroscopy (NIR) is a valuable analytical tool for real-time analysis of the chemical composition of a wide variety of products, including foodstuffs. In this article, we will discuss some applications of NIR spectroscopy particularly for the analysis of two varieties of wheat grains: soft (Triticum aestivum) and hard (Triticum durum), as well as yellow corn (Zea Mays).
NIR analysis of grains
The quality of food products depends directly on the quality of the raw materials used. Therefore, assessing their composition, purity and physicochemical characteristics is of interest to the food industry.
In grain analysis, NIR spectroscopy plays a crucial role in providing detailed information on various parameters, with moisture being one of the critical factors for quality assessment. However, this technique also enables the analysis of other key parameters, such as protein, fat, fibre, ash and starch content, thus offering a more rigorous control according to the established objectives.
NIR spectroscopy differs from other techniques in that it is non-destructive, which means that measurements can be made continuously without compromising the integrity of the batch or sample under analysis. In addition, results are obtained in a matter of seconds, streamlining quality control processes and allowing instant decision making compared to conventional wet chemistry analysis.
NIR analysis of grains: wheat and corn
A Visum NIR In-Line™ (900-1700 nm) continuous analyser was used to develop the grain calibration model and 30 calibration samples and 7 validation samples were used from each class. In addition, duplicate reference analyses were obtained from each sample to mitigate the inherent error in the primary method of analysis. For moisture analysis, a thermogravimetric moisture meter HE53 (Metler Toledo) was used, protein was determined by the Kjeldahl method and fat content was determined by the Soxhlet method.
The table below shows the main results and figures of merit in soft (TB) and durum (TD) wheat for moisture and protein calibration expressed as % on dry matter. In addition, the results for fat and moisture in Yellow Corn are also shown. It is important to clarify that the same calibration is useful and groups both wheat classes into a single family or method of analysis. No significant spectral differences were observed for their individual treatment.
* Table 1 NIR analysis of grains: the main results and figures of merit of the Visum NIR In-Line™ analysis on common wheat, durum wheat and yellow corn are shown.
NIR analysis of grain is also important in the manufacture of animal feed to optimise diets and yields. In the agri-food sector, the NIR technique offers numerous advantages over wet chemistry methods, mainly due to the immediacy of the result and the possibility of being able to make technological decisions on the spot, even more so if we consider the introduction of these systems such as the Visum NIR In-Line™ analyser in production lines that allow continuous monitoring of the entire product flow to ensure the ideal conditions of the process and the product, mitigating any deviation with phytosanitary consequences that may affect the safety of an entire batch, as far as moisture is concerned.
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