Sampling Grain During Outloading (HGCA Topic Sheet No.83)

Sampling grain during outloading

Topic Sheet No. 83
Summer 2005


Consider fitting an automatic bucket sampler to your front loader as a safe, simple, effective way to gather a grain sample from each lorry loaded.
  • Empty the bucket sampler into a suitable container once the lorry has been loaded.
  • Mix thoroughly and divide the composite sample into two equal parts of at least 1kg each: give one to the buyer.
  • Keep the retained farm half-sample in a sealed container for later analysis if necessary.

If you are unsure about any of the suggested actions, or want them interpreted for your local conditions, consult a professional adviser.

The challenge

Quality assurance schemes require farmers to collect and retain a representative sample from each lorry load before the grain leaves the farm.

However, no guidance is given on how to take a representative sample. The obvious methods (sampling the bulk before loading, manually collecting a sample from each bucket as it is loaded or sampling the loaded lorry) are either time consuming, not practical or unsafe. Considerable feedback shows a strong demand from farmers for a practical alternative.

Recently, a farmer has developed a novel device (see over) to collect a sample of about 150g each time a front loader bucket is filled. The sampler is robust and simple with no moving parts. All the individual bucket samples collected as the lorry is loaded are mixed in the sampler to form a composite sample. All the operator has to do is empty the sampler after each lorry has been loaded.

Test results

Sampling methods for lorries loaded with wheat or barley were compared at five sites. An automatic bucket sampler took samples as lorries were loaded. Then, the loaded lorries were sampled according to the agreed lorry sampling protocol (8 full depth spear dips/lorry). This protocol has been studied in depth (Project Report 339) and the samples were shown to be representative.

Samples collected by both methods were analysed with the same equipment and the results compared (Table 1). Both sampling techniques gave very similar results.Therefore, it can be concluded that the new automatic bucket sampler gives a representative sample of a lorry load of grain.

A new sampler available

The front loader bucket sampler collected representative samples, suitable for quality testing.

This new sampling  technique proved easy to use. It did not delay loading, nor did it compromise operator safety.

The test results of 'bucket' samples agreed well with samples collected from lorries when 'best practice' recommendations were followed.

Samples were always large enough to sub-divide for both buyer and seller.

In future, routine use of a bucket sampler could provide a way to sample grain that meets the needs of both buyers and sellers.

Claydon Yield-O-Meter Ltd, Tel: 01440 820327, Fax: 01440 820642. Samplers may also be available from other manufacturers but have not been tested.


To comply with assurance scheme requirements, grain must be sampled as it leaves the farm.

A project, managed by HGCA and funded by HM Treasury 'Invest to Save' through the 'Grain Sampling and Analysis Project', tested a new automatic bucket sampler.This proved to be an easy way to collect samples representative of the load for moisture content, specific weight, protein/nitrogen and screenings. Results compared closely with samples collected by end-users from the lorry.

Further information

Robin Wilkin

Dr John Knight

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The Home-Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA) has provided funding for this project but has not conducted the research or written this report. While the authors have worked on the best information available to them, neither the HGCA nor the authors shall in any event be liable for any loss, damage or injury howsoever suffered directly or indirectly in relation to the report or the research on which it is based.

Reference herein to trade names and proprietary products without stating that they are protected does not imply they may be regarded as unprotected and thus free for general use. No endorsement of named products is intended, nor is any criticism implied of other alternative, but unnamed products.

(c) HGCA, Topic Sheet No. 83, Summer 2005

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