Sorting the good from the bad

RED DEER — A simple grain cleaner has shown results when it comes to cleaning vomitoxin out of cereal seed.

Grain Cleaning LLC offers a series of cleaners that push an airstream through a curtain of grain. Heavier material drops through openings near the airstream’s origin, while lighter material is blown through openings further across the bottom of the cleaner.

“It’s based on density and gravity,” Alexander Lehan, founder of Grain Cleaning LLC, said during Agri-Trade in Red Deer.

“That concept has been around for many years, since the 18th century, but over the past two decades guys are starting to use it more in the grain industry.”

There are no screens in the cleaner. Operators work with wind speed and throttling the volume of grain fed through the machine.

Grain Cleaning LLC first came onto the market in 2012, and since then fusarium introduced DON toxin has become a bigger issue on the Prairies.

“We have producers that had a quarter million bushels of high DON durum that bought a machine to at least get sellable product,” Lehan said.

“It’s been an ATM machine for them.”

He said he has customers who were running the machine 24 hours a day seven days a week with two crews to get their high DON wheat to levels that were more attractive to buyers.

“They could not sell it with seven or eight part per million DON — that’s a salvage,” Lehan said.

“We have guys from 10 p.p.m. to less than two p.p.m., from seven p.p.m. to less than two p.p.m,” about the system’s ability to sort fusarium damaged kernels from the better grain.

Like any grain cleaner, if users put garbage into it they will struggle to get a quality product out of it. Lubinski said the cleaner does not always reduce DON enough to achieve a sellable product, but it always reduces the quantity of fusarium damaged kernels in the sample.

“You can have infection on good, hard, sound seed in certain situations. You’ll blow the dust off, but you’re not going to eliminate that seed out of that sample if it’s infected, but still good hard sound seed,” Lehan said.

A customer from North Dakota takes extra time with the cleaner to get his durum to less than one p.p.m. of DON, says Lubinski.

“I ask them why they want it less than one. They sell it for higher price — $7, $8, $9,” he said.

“They say they could just get it to less than two, but if they cut it more they can get a higher price.”

The grain cleaner is also being used to separate intercrop mixtures.

“Peas and barley, peas and oats, whatever you grow, this separates,” Lehan said.

The smallest cleaner offered by Grain Cleaning LLC cleans 200 bushels per hour, while the largest unit cleans up to 2,200 bu. per hour.

The price range for the cleaners is from $12,000 for the smallest size to $60,000 for the largest unit.

“Ninety-five percent of the machines go on a trailer to make it portable. They can move it bin-to-bin, farm-to-farm, brothers, neighbours, cousins. They buy it together and share,” Lehan said.

“They can clean on their own time at their place, and they don’t have to waste time and money on the trucking.”

A low energy requirement was designed into the cleaners so they can run off a generator anywhere. The smaller 2,200 bu. unit has an 18 amp power draw.

Users can also power the units with the power supply for their aeration fans.

The tin for the cleaners is imported from Europe, but all of the electronics and motors e are manufactured and installed in the United States. Operators can have the machine customized to fit the power supply available on their farm.

“Single phase, three phase, three phase low voltage, three phase high voltage because in elevators or big seed producers, they have excessive loads, like 600 volts and so on, so it’s important,” Lehan said.

“All our control panels are certified North American compliant and come with schematics, so in later years it would be easy to work on.”

A scalper attachment is now available as an add-on to help separate unthreshed kernels.

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