Quality inspection of cereals runs through the whole process of production to consumption of crop grains. Traditional methods for cereal quality testing are mainly wet chemical analysis methods, which are time-consuming, labor-intensive, low accuracy, highly subjective, and pollute the environment.
Scientists from Hefei Institutes of Physical Science (HFIPS), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) developed a set of Portable Cereal Quality Rapid Detector basing on Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to improve the efficiency and accuracy of crop detection.
"We have been cooperating with companies in cereal industry to know their urgent needs," said Prof. WANG Qi, who led the team. "When we learn about their needs, the first comes to our mind is NIR, a non-destructive, rapid and simultaneous detection method."
Basing on NIR method, this newly-developed instrument realized rapid and accurate detection of cereal quality, which includes edible quality, storage period, protein data, amylose, fat and moisture content of cereal (rice, wheat and corn), thus to speed up the process of purchasing, storing and transportation.
Main Obstacles in the Experiment
When they made their goal, the first urgent thing was to prepare an integrated platform basing on NIR technology.
The R&D team included engineers from various disciplines such as optics, computer, agronomy and biology. They collected samples, integrated equipment, developed software and constructed models.
"We successfully developed and optimized this instrument," said WANG, "thanks to collaborated efforts and contribution."
Another difficulty they faced then was how to obtain representative calibration samples and test data, which are at the core of the device's functionality.
"We contacted seed companies and many scientific research institutes," said XU Zhuoping, member of the team, "they sent us representative samples with different traits."
A large number of chemical experiments were carried out to obtain necessary test data, and a database was constructed. Accurate analysis models were constructed under the iterative training of a large amount of data to realize various detection functions.
Advantages of Portable Cereal Quality Rapid Detector
Similar instruments in market usually do not have integrated detection models. The detection function needs to be developed by the user themselves, which pose a high barrier to the use of these instruments.
A convenient instrument is necessary to improve the efficiency.
"We heeded the call," said Prof. WANG, "Various detection functions specifically suitable for domestic food production application scenarios are integrated into our instrument. It takes just 20 seconds for the machine to tell all the data."
Plan in the Future
The team still plan to do more to give users best experience possible.
"Our next goal is to lower the cost, optimize the structure of the instrument by further miniaturizing it," said Prof. Wang, "we will make effort to provide more detection functions and improve the detection accuracy of the models, so as to better serve the grain industry."
Portable Cereal Quality Rapid Detector basing on Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) realized rapid and accurate detection of cereal quality.(Image by ZHAO Weiwei)