Many of you might remember the old days when colour sorting was very black-and-white. Years ago, the first response to contaminated seed was to slow your machine down to do a better job.

Like most other technology, colour sorting has become faster and more efficient. Now, you don’t slow the machines down; you should be speeding them up. They’re faster and more precise, partly because the industry has learned how to sort effectively. It seems counterintuitive. Why would you speed a machine up in order to get more accurate sorting? Wouldn’t it make sense to slow it down? No, because slowing it down creates more space between kernels. The result? A false positive reaction to the camera. The camera is seeing something it shouldn’t, so it fires.

These days, there’s a lot of features that, in the past, seed companies could only dream of, like shape recognition, size recognition, infrared technology that actually looks inside the seed, and more.

A full range of optical sorting equipment is designed specially for grains, beans, pulses, spices, nuts, rice, vegetables and fruits as well as non-food products such as plastics, by sorting colour and shape with superior precision, performance and efficiency.

With these advances has come the ability to remove grains diseased with contaminants like fusarium and ergot.

A good colour sorter — that is, one not filled with knock-off parts from abroad — can reduce fusarium levels considerably. I have seen fusarium levels go from eight per cent to less than two per cent in a single pass. Yield losses should also be low, in the less than five per cent range. I have seen cheaply made colour sorters leave the user with a yield loss as high as 35 per cent, and only running at half the speed. This is unacceptable.

With regard to fusarium removal, we have had customers tell us that their ROI was less than three months running 24/7 at high volume. The upfront cost might be more, but in the long run, you will save substantial money by having high throughput and low yield loss. Paying for good technology is better than throwing your money away on Chinese knock-offs.

Colour sorters have come a long way, but not all are the same. Do your research and make sure you turn to a company offering sophisticated optical sorting solutions that do the job they are intended for, and are not just lookalikes.

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