Bühler reveals a new sorting technology that will minimize toxic contamination in maize and improve yield, by identifying and removing cancer-causing, aflatoxin-infected grains. It does this more accurately and at greater speed than any previous solution, according to the company. The new equipment is presented at Hanover Messe trade fair, April 23 -27.
Developed in partnership with Microsoft, the launch of LumoVision™ is a significant advancement for the maize processing industry in its fight against fungal molds called mycotoxins, the most poisonous of which is aflatoxin. The innovation can eliminate up to 90% of contaminated maize.
Until now, sorting maize for aflatoxin reduction has proved difficult and imprecise, relying on identifying indirect indications of contamination. Testing for contamination based on sampling is inconclusive and time-consuming as contamination occurs in hotspots. Just two contaminated kernels in 10,000 are sufficient to make a lot unfit for purpose. Alongside health risks, the economic impact on farmers and food processors is significant.
LumoVision is the first optical sorting technology able to identify aflatoxin based on direct indicators of contamination, while simultaneously using real-time, cloud-based data to monitor and analyze contamination risk.
It works by analyzing the color each kernel fluoresces as it passes under powerful UV lighting in the sorter. It is known that contaminated kernels fluoresce a specific bright green color. LumoVision’s proprietary, highly sensitive cameras detect precisely this color of fluorescence. Within milliseconds of detection, air nozzles deploy to blow contaminated kernels out of the product stream. The machine processes up to 15 tons of product an hour, eliminating up to 90% of contamination – a significant improvement on current solutions.
A cloud-based solution using infrastructure provided by Microsoft is a key enabler to reducing overall yield loss. Combining data from the cameras with data stored in the cloud allows local, real-time analysis of the risk of contamination to be carried out. When the risk is minimal, sorting is halted while the machine continues to monitor. If the risk rises, sorting automatically restarts. LumoVision, coupled with the cloud service, reduces yield loss to below 5%, compared with between 5% and up to 25% for other current solutions.
Transforming Lives and Livelihoods
“We are incredibly excited about this achievement. As an organization, we have strived to solve the problem of aflatoxin contamination for many years. Now, with today’s technological advances, we’re able to bring this ground-breaking solution to market,” says Ben Deefholts, senior research engineer for digital technologies at Bühler. “Wit
h data science techniques and tools we can develop sorting algorithms, while connectivity and IoT solutions allow us to combine our optical sorting with real-time risk models,” he adds.
With LumoVision, food, feed, and pet food manufacturers can protect their product from contamination, avoid the cost of expensive recalls and reputation consequences, while increasing yields and reducing waste.
LumoVision is currently undergoing testing onsite with Bühler customer Capa Cologna, in Italy, an agricultural cooperative whose maize was affected by aflatoxin following drought experienced during the growing season in 2012. Further testing will take place within the MycoKey network, a project funded by the European Commission to develop smart, sustainable solutions that reduce mycotoxins in food and feed.