This is a guest post from SGS Agricultural Services Canada.
You completed another long and tiring harvest, the fruits of your labour are in the bin. Do you have a sample in hand, ready to send away, take to the local elevator of choice or submit it to an inspection agency? Does the sample in hand accurately represent what is in your bin?
At SGS we see and hear about it everyday, the sample results sent for inspection do not match the truck unload sample at your elevator or terminal. This causes major problems not only for the unload point, but for the producer as well. The single most important factor when grading a sample is having an accurate sample. When submitting product for grade determination, you want to ensure you have a representative sample.
To ensure you are taking a representative sample you first must estimate how many loads the bin will hold. You want to make sure that you will have sufficient samples for you to “shop” your product to local facilities or brokers as we as have backup samples to keep on farm. We would recommend 10kg as most facilities ideally like to look at a 1kg sample, thus giving you 10 samples. When you’re ready to unload your grain truck or cart into the bin, have a hand scoop to sample the grain to be unloaded that will a couple hundred grams at a time.
Once product is flowing, insert your hand scoop into the flow upside down, then turn it right side up once fully under the flow until the scoop fills. Start this process at one side of the grain flow. Repeat this procedure, working your way to the opposite side of the grain flow then back again and repeat. This method will ensure a good representation for any small seeds and/or chaff that will gravitate to the middle and sides of the grain flow.
Next is determining the amount of grain it will take to fill that bin. If it is going to take five 1 hour of loading time and your sample scoop is 200 grams you know you will need to take a sample approximately every 1 minute and 10 seconds to get to the ideal 10kg total for that bin. Sampling times will vary with each bin and with different amounts of grain to be unloaded each time.
There, now you have a representative sample for that bin. However, before you take a sample for grade, there is one last important step to follow. We mentioned small seeds and chaff, not only can this affect the dockage, it has the potential to influence the grade as well. When sampling into a sampling pail the chaff tends to gravitate to the sides of the container, while the small seeds will work their way to the bottom. If you send in a sample from the top of the pail to one facility and one from the bottom of the pail to a different facility it’s very possible to receive two entirely different results. To prevent this from occurring make sure to divide or split your sample down into 2 pails. To do this put two pails directly beside each other so half of the flow from your original pail goes into each pail on the ground until you have the desired amount (1kg), a divider is recommended. You are now prepared to send/take your sample for a grade, and you can be confident you should receive consistent results each time you deliver a truck load from that bin.
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