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Australian Government: National Measurement InstituteAustralian Government: National Measurement Institute
National Measurement Institute

Agriculture Sector (Grain and Cane Sugar)

The trade of most agricultural products is based on quantity and/or quality.

The measurement of the quantity of an agricultural product is covered under the general requirements of the national trade measurement system if measured by weight or volume.   A listing of standards and test procedures for instruments that measure quantities of agricultural products is available on our website.

Quality measurements can impact the profitability of growers, handlers and buyers, so it is important that all parties are confident that measurements are accurate and consistent for trade transactions. Two agricultural sectors have worked closely with the National Measurement Institute (NMI) to finalise standards relating to instruments that measure quality. They are the Grain and the Cane Sugar industries; the pattern approval standards and test procedures can be found in Table 2 and Table 3 below. 

Trade Measurement

All measuring instruments in Australia that are used to determine the price of products must comply with the National Measurement Act 1960 and the National Trade Measurement Regulations 2009. These laws underpin the Australian trade measurement system. The trade measurement system ensures that the pricing of products is based on accurate measurements and covers both business-to-business and business-to-consumer trade.

What quality measurements in the Grain and Cane Sugar industries are covered?

The following table lists the quality measurements applicable to Grain and Cane Sugar industries that are regulated through the trade measurement system.

Table 1: Quality Measurements


Quality parameter

Measuring instrument






Grain Protein measuring instruments

Cane sugar


Density Hydrometers


Sugar concentration

Polarimeters (saccharimeters)

What do I need to do to sell or use quality measuring instruments?

Australian regulations require instruments that measure quality used for trade to be:

  • pattern approved (see Pattern Approval below)
  • verified (see verification below)
  • installed and operated correctly when in use for trade; and
  • that all parties involved in the trade be able to either easily observe the measurement or get a written or printed statement.

Pattern approval

Pattern approval is the assessment of an instrument’s design as being fit for purpose, and being able to operate in the environment in which it is expected to be used.

Different instrument types have different pattern approval requirements. The following table provides links to the requirements for each of the quality measuring instrument types. These requirements also include the correct installation and operation of the instruments.

Table 2: Pattern Approval requirements

Measuring instrument

Pattern Approval requirements

Chondrometers for grain

General Certificate of Approval 4/10/0A

Grain Protein measuring instruments


Density Hydrometers for cane sugar

General Certificate of Approval 17/1/0

Polarimeters (saccharimeters) for cane sugar


Each pattern approved model will have a Certificate of Approval, with all the relevant information pertaining to that model.


Verification is the testing of individual instruments that are of a pattern approved model to assess if they are operating within error limits. Verification can be done by an NMI appointed servicing licensee who holdsropriate licence class for the instrument.

The following table lists the test procedures for verification of the quality measuring instruments.

Table 3: Test procedure for verification by servicing licensee

Measuring Instrument

Test Procedure for verification


General Certificate of Approval 4/10/0A

Grain Protein measuring instruments

NITP 15.1

Density Hydrometers

NITP 17.1

Polarimeters (saccharimeters)

NITP 15.2

What does a servicing licensee for quality measuring instruments do?

Servicing licensees are competent businesses appointed by NMI under the National Measurement Act 1960 (Cth) to test measuring instruments. When verifying a measuring instrument, a servicing licensee will:

  • confirm the instrument complies with its Certificate of Approval (CoA) issurd by NMI
  • test its accuracy using certified reference materials and reference standards in accordance with National Instrument Test Procedures (NITP) and/or test procedure outlined in its CoA.

Please see the Servicing Licensees page for more details.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Q1. What if my measuring instrument is of an approved pattern but not verified?

Before using it for trade, you must get a servicing licensee to verify your instrument.

You can find contact details of servicing licensees for all instrument categories by

Q2. How do I know if an instrument is verified?

Following verification, a verification mark (for example, see image below) is applied to the instrument. This indicates that the measuring instrument passed the relevant tests and requirements.

Example of a verification mark

Q3. How do I become a servicing licensee?

You must apply to the NMI and undertake training. Licences are granted where applicants meet the licence criteria under the National Measurement Act 1960 and the conditions of licence provided in the National Trade Measurement Regulations 2009. For further information on how to become a servicing licensee for a particular instrument class and/or subclasses, including applications, requirements and fees, please contact Trade Measurement Licensing on:

Q4. How do I know if a particular make or model of a measuring instrument is approved?

Details of all the approved models of quality measuring instruments can be found on the NMI website under Certificates of Approval.

Q5. What are Australian certified reference materials (ACRMs) and how do I get them?

Australian certified reference materials (ACRMs) are samples of known quality that are used for the calibration of measuring instruments. They can also be used to assess a measuring method or to assign values to materials. They must be certified under the National Measurement Regulations 1999 as an ACRM.

ACRMs for grain protein measurement must be obtained from a Certifying Authority appointed by NMI.

Q6. What are reference standards of measurement and how do I get them?

A reference standard of measurement is one that has been verified according to the National Measurement Regulations 1999 and which has a current Certificate of Verification.

An example of a reference standard of measurement is a standard volume measure which has a current certificate under Regulation 13 of the National Measurement Regulations 1999.

Where a reference standard of measurement is used for testing in accordance with a National Instrument Test Procedure, it must meet all the requirements of the relevant NITP. The reference standard of measurement must be verified by a Verifying Authority.

Please see the Sample Quality Manual for more details on reference standards of measurement.

For more Information

The main laws covering trade measurement in Australia are the National Measurement Act 1960 and the National Trade Measurement Regulations 2009. For offences and penalties regarding the use of measuring instruments see the following sections of the Act:

View more information on NMI’s compliance and enforcement policy.

For more information contact 1300 686 664, (preferred) or use our online form