Dirk Maier

Dirk Maier

Adjunct Professor
Purdue University
Department of Agricultural & Biological Engineering
225 South University Street
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2093
Office: Room 210 ABE
Areas of Interest
  • Food Process Engineering
  • Agricultural Safety and Health


Dirk E. Maier is Professor, Associate Head and Extension Engineer in Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Purdue University. He received his B.S, M.S. and Ph.D. from Michigan State University. Dirk began his career at Purdue University as an assistant professor and extension agricultural engineer in December 1991.

His research focuses on post-harvest engineering and value-added processing of agricultural crops and biological products. Most projects are of a multi-disciplinary nature and involve colleagues in other Purdue University departments and at other universities, government research labs, and in industry. Available research facilities include the Grain Quality Laboratory, the pilot-bin facility of the Post-Harvest Education & Research Center, the Grain Mold & Mycotoxin Laboratory, the Food Pest Entomology Laboratory, as well as access to the grain handling facilities at the Agronomy Research Center, the Animal Sciences Research & Education Center (including the feed mill), and five Purdue Agricultural Centers across Indiana. On-going research studies are focusing on:

* The development of non-chemical and other alternative preservation technologies (grain chilling, ozonation, precision fumigation) for the storage of cereal grains, oilseeds and processed products
* The modeling of stored-grain ecosystems, and the study of the effects of environmental conditions on stored-product pest management (IPM) in the field and laboratory
* The determination of food-grade grain (incl. corn, popcorn, wheat, rice) quality as influenced by harvesting, handling, drying, storage and transportation
* The evaluation of combining medium and low temperature drying with natural air conditioning using automatic fan and burner controllers, and the effects of stress cracks and non-uniform moistures on processing and end use
* The modeling of segregated handling practices for the identity-preservation of value-added grains and oilseeds, and evaluation of facility design and operation through system simulation;
* The optimization of grain and oilseed processing and feed manufacturing including quantification of thermal and physical properties, and flaking behavior of soybeans
* The quantification of variability of the end use value of specialty grains and oilseeds based on composition (incl. protein, oil, starch, fiber)
* The study of optimal rescue procedures for grain entrapments in on-farm and commercial structures.

His extension education program consists of an active technology transfer and continuing education program in post-harvest engineering, value-added processing and quality assurance of agricultural crops and biological products. It teaches farmers, elevator operators and processors the basics of drying, handling, storage and aeration system planning; the operation of post-harvest systems for the segregated handling of identity-preserved (IP) specialty crops and the assurance of maximum stored grain quality; and the utilization of composition information (protein, oil, starch) for value-added grains through a free grain composition analysis service to Indiana producers, elevators, and processors. Preventing insect infestations and fungi spoilage of stored products requires an integrated system management approach that combines engineering, biological, and economic principles. Cooperative efforts with entomology, plant pathology and agricultural economics provide extensive training, publicizing and incorporation of new research findings. Dirk is the co-founder of the Purdue Grain Quality Team, key initiator of the Purdue Post-Harvest Education and Research Center, and director of the Purdue Grain Quality Laboratory.

He teaches ASM591M "Post-Harvest Grain Handling - Facilities Planning", which focuses on the layout and design of on-farm and commercial grain handling systems. This 1-credit course is offered as an independent study during the first five weeks of the spring semester of each year, and is taken by students from several academic programs including Agricultural Systems Management, Farm Management, and Agricultural Economics. He also teaches a 3-credit advanced topics class every other spring semester entitled ASM 591G �Advanced Topics in Post-Harvest Operations for Grains & Oilseeds�. He is also the Director of the GEAPS-Purdue Distance Learning Program, which offers distance learning courses to grain industry professionals on a range of topics. Current courses include GEAPS 510 Grain Facilities Planning & Design I, GEAPS 511 Grain Facilities Planning & Design II, and GEAPS 520 Quality Grain Management.

To find out more about Dirk's current collaborative and multidisciplinary research and extension education program including our new distance learning program, visit the Purdue University Grain Quality & Stored Product Protection Program Page.