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Kemin's Solutions to Harvesting Challenges

Harvest represents one of the most important and pivotal events in the agricultural industry’s yearly calendar. The downstream impact of either a good or poor harvest has wide reaching impacts, not only for the arable farmer, but also for livestock producers who rely on the grains, as the cost of raw materials will be impacted by availability and quality. With such high stakes, preserving and optimizing the physical and nutritional quality of harvested cereals is essential.

There are several challenges that can impact grain quality during and after harvest. Approaching these challenges holistically ensures optimal grain quality, subsequent feed quality and consequently optimal animal performance. A list of the primary issues:

  • Supply vs Demand: over the past year we have experienced a period of grain shortages, where the demand has exceeded supply. This has resulted in record cereal prices.
  • Traditionally, grain is stored and dried for a period before feeding. However, due to shortages in the market, producers are often forced to use grains straight off the field without any waiting time for drying or settling of grains post- harvest.
  • Climate change is increasing the summer temperatures, coupled with wet spring seasons, which has been found to increase mould activity and mycotoxin formation, causing substantial losses during storage and downstream effects for animals consuming these affected cereals.
  • High summer temperatures reduce moisture levels of grains leading to harvesting and shatter losses.
  • High temperatures trigger microbial activity and growth, which can lead to increased nutrient losses and storage challenges. To ensure survival, insects will burrow into accessible or damaged grains, leading to damage and nutrient losses.
  • Delays can occur if weather conditions are not optimal at harvest, placing additional pressure on grain dryers' capacity and thus harvesting speed.
  • Weather pattern changes during storage has become highly variable across regions and managing temperature fluctuations during storage is critical, to prevent condensation/ moisture migration, which can lead to quality deterioration and increased risks.
  • New Grain Syndrome can occur when grain that has not had time to settle or hasn’t dried properly, is fed to livestock. This syndrome is highly detrimental to the performance and/or health of monogastric livestock. 

Learn more about New Grain Syndrome here

Once grain has been harvested a number of factors may influence the storage risks and quality of the grain over time. These factors all require management, in order to maintain good grain quality.

Factor 1 – Moisture

Higher moisture levels can lead to poor storage stability and rapid quality losses. A common practice to manage this risk, is to dry grains in dryers, to attain a target moisture level before placement into storage.

Factor 2 – Grain Damage

Any broken or damaged kernels are vulnerable to damage, from microbial growth, insects, mites etc, as the protective outer layer has been damaged, exposing the internal structures, which are more easily broken down. Normally sieving/ sorting is done at harvest, to help reduce these risks.

Factor 3 – Insects

Insects may be present in storage (either from the grains or in the storage areas), and under favourable conditions may burrow into grains, causing damage and consuming nutrients. Normally fumigation of storage and sieving helps to reduce insect risks.

Factor 4 – Moulds

Mould growth during storage can cause both nutritional and stock/ physical losses, resulting in large financial costs. Normally drying is used to lower the risk of mould growth.

Factor 5 – Temperature

Most of the previously listed factors are strongly linked to temperatures and warmer conditions make good storage and risk management more challenging. The use of temperature sensors and aeration is common, in order to help manage grains in storage.

An alternative and cost-effective approach to drying grains, is to remove this step and instead utilize the Kemin Grain Treatment (GT) Programme.

This programme has been developed by Kemin for the safe storage and management of cereals, oilseeds and pulses used in animal feeds. The Kemin Grain Treatment Programme has been successfully used in long-term grain treatment and storage practices around the world, providing more flexibility and quality preservation during harvesting and storage. The application of Myco CURB in grains captures the nutritive value, reduces the total mould count, inhibits mite populations, guarantees good grain quality and successfully prevents the formation of storage moulds and thus mycotoxins. The GT Programme helps ensures successful grain storage practices, minimising the risk of grain deterioration and providing flexible protection, in accordance with individual risk factors.

Learn how to inhibit mould contamination

At Kemin, we propose an efficient approach to mitigate the negative effects and facilitate the feeding of new season grains. This utilises a three-pronged approach, to tackle each angle of the potential problems and can be used alone or in combination with the other solutions.

Firstly, we need to look at antioxidants to solve oxidation challenges. Secondly, we look at the use of a multi-enzyme blend to degrade NSPs in grain and reducing the viscosity of digesta. Finally, we consider the use of a mould inhibitor to prevent formation of Aspergillus spp. moulds and therefore prevent mycotoxin production.

The benefit of this three-pronged approach ensures optimal results, by tackling all three causal agents. The combination offers an efficient solution to a situation that can cause substantial losses in profitability.

Find out more about the solutions for New Grain Syndrome here

In order to truly understand what is happening within grains, the quality of grains at harvest and during storage needs to be measured or quantified. By measuring and providing concrete data it becomes possible to understand the risks, measure and track changes over time and thus manage these factors using a practical and scientific approach. Tracking and monitoring is therefore an essential part of pro-active management of grain quality. Many factors can affect storage and grain quality, thus combining these factors, to form an overall picture of grain quality is essential.

Quality parameters, such as:

  • Total Mould Count (TMC)
  • Moisture 
  • Water Activity
  • CO2 stress/ stability testing

The Kemin Customer Laboratory Services team has dedicated specialists, who annually examine the quality of hundreds of grain, feed and feed raw material samples, used in livestock production. This has resulted in a database of information, which helps us to uniquely understand the factors and risks present, along with techniques, tools and solutions to best approach and manage these risks. We continue to grow and learn with you, working towards continuous innovation and improvements of our solutions, to provide the most effective approach available.

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