News & Media

Laboratory testing crucial to barley development

Released on

Released on:
Friday, 17. May 2013 - 11:00

More than 5000 barley samples will be tested in the Department of Agriculture and Food’s grain quality laboratory this year by a team including long serving technical officer Grant Powell.

Mr Powell, who recently received a 20-year Length of Service award, will perform thousands of tests on the new lines as they make their way through four levels of quality evaluation to commercialisation.

The department provides the service to internal and external clients, including InterGrain – a plant breeding company in which the State Government has a shareholding, alongside the Grains Research and Development Corporation and Monsanto.

Mr Powell is currently evaluating grain harvested from last year’s field trials.

“As a line makes its way through the program the tests become more advanced,” he said.

“Preliminary or level one testing utilises near infrared spectroscopy technology to predict parameters, such as grain protein and malt extract. Samples progressing to higher levels of analysis, about 2000 lines, require micro malting.

“The malting process involves steeping and germinating barley under controlled conditions, then kilning the green malt to preserve the modified grain structure and enzyme processes for producing fermentable sugars during brewing.”

During the past two decades Mr Powell has seen several malting varieties become commercialised, including Gairdner, Fitzgerald, Hamelin, Baudin and Vlamingh.

“The biggest developments have been in the testing instruments, which have become more sophisticated and accurate, providing better selection opportunities based on industry standard methods reflecting changing client needs,” Mr Powell said.

Mr Powell is now part of the department team working in the new Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre based at the department’s South Perth site.


Media contact: Jodie Thomson, media liaison  +61 (0)8 9368 3937