There Is Still Room at the Top for Seed Processing Innovation

- Jon Moreland

How much better can we get in how we process seeds? We already sort and sift seed by weight, density, length, width, shape and color. How much better can we get? Where is there room for improvement? The opportunity for innovation is not in what we do, but in how we do it. Petkus Innovation Manager Dr. Khaled Raed says machines in the total process have to get much smarter and collect data that can be used to inform management decisions.

Except for minor, incremental enhancements, most seed processing equipment operating today is little changed from what it was 50 years ago. We don’t know anything more about the seed coming out of a conditioning tower until a sample has been examined in a seed testing lab. Then it is too late to find out that something needs to be changed. Smarter equipment will provide transparency with real time data to make changes and improve quality as the seed goes through the conditioning process.

Smarter machines will provide real time data that can be collected, analyzed, reformed and sent to stakeholders so that they know with transparency what needs to be done. The most immediate opportunity for enhanced equipment is smart color sorters. Sensing technology exists to collect data that can be processed to enable managers to make downstream decisions. For example, a smart color sorter could examine seed corn and determine the ratio of flats versus rounds in each seed lot, perhaps even before the seed goes into the dryer. Having this information early in the selling season would be extremely valuable to sales and marketing managers.

To enhance the development of smart machines, Petkus has created a joint venture and formed a software company called Petkus Process Automation. With this technology, data can be collected, analyzed, reformed and sent to the stakeholders so that they know with transparency what is being done with their seed as it moves through the conditioning process.