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Grain Quality Testing: Why It’s Important

Seed that is getting ready to be planted on the farm in Southeast, Iowa

As we’re preparing for harvest, the main driving metric that we’ve always looked at to evaluate success has been yield and yield only. But, only driving for more yield has taken us away from other metrics that really matter in running a successful farming operation or ranch. Not only do we want to continue to drive more yield and feed more people, but we need to drive yield properly and produce the best QUALITY products to be delivered to the marketplace. We can do this with grain quality testing.

Grain quality testing is not something broadly used in corn and soybeans. However, the quality of crops is going to continue to rise in importance. We’re starting to see initial groups like Indigo Ag start to evaluate the actual quality of the grain. Some testing labs are testing thorough information like individual nutrients and pesticide residues within grain. Metrics that are going to be important within the marketplace will be such things as protein, oil content, starches, energy content and actual nutritional density/nutritional balance. Nutritional content is important for human health, livestock growth and development, ethanol production or sugar extraction far up the supply chain as our grain is processed into consumer products.
grain quality testing
Ag groups are going to start testing grain and rewarding farmers monetarily according to the quality of grain produced, not just the quantity. So how does this relate to Continuum Ag? We can actually improve the quality of grain with quality soil. You are what you eat, tracing all the way back to the soil. Whether that be in a direct linear chain or includes various levels of processing, it boils down to better quality grain, better production methods and better quality soil. We can balance soil in order to create a more nutritionally balanced grain crop.

This is becoming extremely important because the consumer is gaining more and more data about the food they’re eating, and they know more about how their food is produced. One of the new companies that’s coming on board is the Bionutrient Food Association. They’ve already created a nutrient density reader that is available for purchase. The consumer can use this handheld device to evaluate actual nutritional density of food in real time. This device communicates with the user’s phone to display nutritional facts about the food they’re looking to purchase.

In various other ways as well, the consumer is going to see more and more info about the products on the shelves. They’re going to see where the food comes from, and data that shows nutritional qualities will begin to drive purchase decisions as much as price and brand recognition.

Overall, as farmers, we need to continue to do things more sustainably and make sure that we’re farming in a manner that’s better for the environment but that’s also producing a better quality product. It’s not only our job to feed a growing population, but also to feed a growing population with healthier products. Better quality food starts with better quality soil. You as a farmer have the unique ability to improve the supply chain and increase profitability at the same time.

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