Sunflower seeds are important for both food and animal feed, but supply is challenged by unprecedented disruption to farming and supply chains in major growing regions. Wherever the distinctive sunflowers are produced, increasingly volatile weather conditions add more uncertainty to the volume and quality of harvests.
With supply under threat, it makes more sense than ever to ensure the best possible use of the available supply. A new multi-parameter test option promises to do just that by providing essential data for effective payment and handling of seeds according to quality.
Four key parameters tested within 30 seconds
An easy to use and highly reliable analytical instrument now allows whole sunflower seeds to be tested directly in a sample cup without sample preparation. This avoids time-consuming reference tests based on chemical analysis and cuts the use of hazardous solvents. Results are delivered within 30 seconds and the parameters measured are oil, moisture, and oleic and linoleic acid.
Oil and moisture are key parameters for payment, segregation and storage of sunflower seeds. Moisture important for controlling the energy intensive drying processes and hitting the generally recommended moisture content of 7.5 to 9.0% for storage. Overall oil content allows segregation of seeds for rational use downstream in processing.
Oleic and linoleic acid are the two main fat components and the ratio is important for quality control when deciding how best to use the seeds. High Oleic acid content can give a higher premium as it is prized for health and cooking benefits which are claimed to be very similar to olive oil in helping to maintain a healthy balance of blood cholesterol. At the same time, the oil withstands higher cooking temperature and has a neutral taste compared to olive oil.
Exploiting the power of near infrared analysis
The whole sunflower seed quality test option is for the FOSS NIRS™ DS2500 and NIRS™ DS3 analyser which are popular and well-proven rapid test solutions built on near infrared (NIR) technology. Providing a quick and reliable source of test data on a wide variety of materials, NIR analysers have become essential tools for quality control of a wide range of raw materials and finished products in food and agricultural production.
As such, the whole sunflower seed quality test complements existing capability to test a range of food and feed raw materials and products with the NIRS DS2500 and NIRS DS3 analysers.
Just some of the many existing applications include tests on whole rapeseeds, soybeans, oilseed meals, feed pellets, flour, milk powder, plant-based products and more. The reliability of results for parameters such as protein, moisture, fat and more help to handle varying quality of incoming raw material and improve control of processes and final products. The analysers can even be programmed to test soil for parameters critical to more sustainable farming strategies such as soil organic carbon.
Effective analytical operations
Offering an innovative combination of the latest hardware, software and networking technology, the latest NIR analysers such as the NIRS DS3 now makes NIR analysis more powerful and accessible than ever.
In addition, little or no sample preparation is involved and automated sample transfer to data management systems avoids operator time spent on manual data input. Networking software allows individual or multiple instruments to be managed from a desktop located anywhere. The option to create statistical reports based on data from multiple-instruments also allows users to track the performance of individual units or a whole fleet of instruments.
Despite pressing challenges, producers throughout today’s food and agri industry can exploit opportunities such as the new test for sunflower seed to improve productivity while matching demands for high-quality and sustainable products.
Further applications for FOSS NIR solutions are under continuous development.