Demand for grains which are the basic nutritional source for human being increases along with the increase in world population. So, efforts are made to reduce losses occurring during storage while works for increasing production intensify at the same time because grain loss occurring during storage is equal to 20 percent of total production. ITG-Turkey Turkey Sales Manager Hakan AKAL, who informed us about the methods to reduce grain loss, summarize the subject with these words: "The more important the productivity is in production, the more important it is to prevent wastes and losses in crops!"
Along with the increase in world population, meeting the nutritional demands of increasing population has become a critical issue. Primary raw materials for food which we use in nutrition have been made of grains for centuries. This inevitable population growth creates a huge demand for all types of cereals. However, improper storage conditions cause high levels of grain losses for popular grains. Grain losses occurring during storage is equal to 20 percent of total production.
In order to find out more on how to prevent the grain wastes and ensure healthy grain storage, we talked to ITG-Turkey Turkey Sales Manager Hakan AKAL from Infotech Group Tahıl ve Türevlerini Stoklama Teknolojileri San. Tic. Ltd. Şti., an expert organization of the industry.
Mr. Akal, first of all, can you introduce yourself?
I was born in 1978 in the province of Zonguldak and I worked as a manager in the sales and marketing departments in such fields as pharmaceutical and advertising. As though it was not long ago that I started to work in the milling industry, as someone who believes in the philosophy "we are from soil and will end up in the soil", I can frankly admit that I feel belonged to this sector. We can direct the future if we can integrate the fertility from the soil into the technology and science. In this context, I am very grateful to TABADER for undertaking the task of spreading science and technology in this sector and I find its activities and seminars very useful.
Why is storage so important? Do you think milling industry shows enough interest to the subjects related with storage? Which subjects are missing?
Though we are a hardworking society, it is a well-known fact for a long time that we are not very successful when it comes to saving, preserving our values or wasting and preventing loss and damage. However, these issues are of vital importance in the milling sector. Despite this, due to the heavy workforce, there is no an adequate level of interest in these issues.
The first of these is the chain of rules which must be taken into consideration when the crop enters the storage process. A number of preparations must be made in silos and other warehouses before the grain storage process begins. One of the most important checks is whether the temperature control system is working or not. The lack of heat control systems or their inability to operate properly can cause incredible problems and damage to the business owner.
What has happened to the self-sacrifice that we have shown in the production of thousands of tons of grain? A moment of lull, a moment of idleness or carelessness can cause thousands of tons of product to go to waste. The capital that some businesses strive for years can become a thing of past in the twinkle of an eye. These systems are literally like life insurance because they save lives. These issues must certainly be paid utmost attention! We contend that part of the effort spent on production must be spent for its healthy preservation so that the harvesting can be fruitful and the crops can be in safety.
What do you mean by healthy grain conservation? Could you give us some information about this?
When you put the grain (wheat, barley, corn, paddy rice, sunflower, etc.) into the warehouses after being harvested at the soil and when the grain is in the process of the storage process, the product is still a living entity. In other words, despite the fact that the grains are cut off from their stalks, many vital functions continue and it goes on breathing. Moisture builds up in a grain deposit where numerous grains are present together due to this breathing process. When you add the products’ own humidity (9 to 14 percent), a very humid environment can occur. As such, you know that wherever the humidity and the food are together, there is a suitable living space for the harmful organisms. As these harmful effects multiply, that is to say, the grains will get ill, the temperature will increase and if you are following the temperature, you can start the necessary treatment quickly.
So, what are the treatment methods?
These methods include aerating the overheated grain with a fan, transferring, or partly spraying it. These may provide the solutions but the most effective method is to cool the grain with a cooling device and prevent it from overheating for a longer period of time.
In today's technological possibilities, the most healthy grain conservation way is to instantly observe and report the temperature changes in the storage; the second very important issue is to cool the grain with conditioned air, in other words, cooling the grain with an air the coldness of which is adjusted by you. If you are ready in these two areas, it means you can ensure healthy grain storage.
Could you tell us how the system works?
The temperature monitoring probes are usually mounted on the roofs of grain stores or steel silos. The temperature sensors located at the center of the probe measure the temperature at certain intervals, staying in the large quantities of grain. The measurements are transferred online to the control panel or to the program in the computer. This data stored on the computer can be kept for many years unless the user deletes it. Various reports can be obtained based on a silo, probe and sensor basis. An alarm system can also be set up to alert us regarding the overheating if it is necessary.
Are the temperature control systems in grain storage really that important?
When you are sick and go to a doctor, if you express your complaint in a good way, the doctor will be able to detect your disease more clearly and quickly and it will also be as effective and easy to write and prescribe a prescription. If you do not see the inside of the warehouse or silos where thousands of tons of grains are kept and if you have not sound answers to such questions as what reactions are observed in the grain storages and what temperature is, whether it has fallen or risen rapidly, then it means your grain is at great risk. Did the temperature reduce or increase? How quickly did the temperature increase? Our digital-based heat control systems, which we produce, measure the customer's net product with net ratings and transmit it online to the computer in the data office and inform the operator. In this way, the customer can write the correct prescription and start the correct treatment. Thanks to these systems, you can minimize the risks regarding the grain.
What happens if we do not cool the grain?
If you say that you have a correct diagnosis and there is an "overheating problem in your storage", the treatment methods will be as we mentioned above. If you carry out the cooling process with a grain air conditioning instead of traditional methods such as spraying or fan ventilation to solve the problem, if you homogenously bring the temperature in your storage below 13 °C, there will be no more insects, molds, fungus or germination in the grain for at least 3 to 6 months. This is not a theoretical knowledge; it is a proven method in practice; when we look at the facilities that use the cooling devices, we can see that they have no problems or risks regarding grain storage.
How do we notice the grain is overheating?
First of all, anyone who deals with grains should carry the knowledge of grains to the highest level. Grain does not rapidly overheat in a short period of time like 5 minutes or 1 hour. The rise in temperature starts slowly and it may last for days. For example; if a sensor in a relevant zone records a 2-degree increase per week and if this is going on every week, then we might talk about overheating in that particular zone. It is necessary to distinguish it from normal temperature fluctuations. What should be noted here is that if the average temperature of grains in the other areas of the depot shows a sharp difference from the temperature of the overheated zone, then this is a sign for danger and if you do not intervene, then your whole grain is at risk.
You mentioned about the grain cooling devices, do you as Infotech Group produce these devices?
No, we don’t. The Infotech Group works in the sector to correct mistakes in grain storage. In addition to our consultancy in this field, we only produce heat control systems in our integrated plants. In the case of grain cooling, we are engaged in the distribution of the machines of our German partner company (FrigorTec) in Turkey.
We mainly touched upon the technical issues; could you give us information about your firm?
The Infotech Group was formally established in 1997 in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria and started to produce systems that help ensure healthy grain storage. The company has over 20 years of experience in its respective field and exports to about 40 countries. Engineering is at the forefront in all systems we produce; we always favor innovation and science. Entering the Turkish market in 2005, Infotech Group can provide faster and more qualified service to its customers with its office in Bursa. Because of the unhealthy storage conditions in the world and in Turkey, tons of grains go to waste every year. Infotech Group has the knowledge, experience and ability to overcome these unhealthy conditions as long as the producers demand this expertise from us.