This handheld scanner lets farmers analyze their crops in seconds

Imagine being able to scan food with a handheld device and immediately be presented information on its nutritional content. That’s the idea behind an agriculture-focused gadget called GrainSense, which does this for crops including wheat, oats, rye, and barley. By scanning these crops with a range of frequencies of near-infrared light, farmers can find out the levels of protein, moisture, oil, and carbohydrate in their grain.

“Farmers, whether arable or animal-based, live in a complicated and ever-tightening society,” Edvard Krogius, CEO of GrainSense, told Digital Trends. “The value chain is squeezing their healthy existence from both ends and — in order to survive — they need to move from traditional labor farming to precision farming. Data-driven technology has made its entrance in the traditional farming industry where big and small players are offering their efficiency enhancing solutions. A common denominator for these solutions is to get a better insight into operations and to make better decisions based on accurate information.”

The technique being used by GrainSense has been available in labs for years, but this marks the first time it’s been incorporated into a handheld device. Instead of having to send off a significant amount of grain to a laboratory and then wait weeks for a result, farmers can use the GrainSense device with a sample of only 50-100 kernels, and receive an answer in only five seconds. This data is then cross-referenced with GPS coordinates revealing where the measurements were taken, and sent to a mobile app.

grainsense farmers crops 006 web

The resulting insights don’t just save time for farmers; they also help make farming more efficient and proactive — since the instant feedback allows farmers to change fertilizer quantity or moisture levels as they are growing their crops, as opposed to assessing them retrospectively.

Krogius said that the GrainSense device will go on sale in spring 2018 in Sweden, Finland, and the Baltic countries. The goal is to make it available for less than 4,000 euros ($4,773). The company is also currently seeking distributors in other European markets such as the U.K., Germany, Poland, France, and Spain — although a later U.S. launch is hopefully not out of the question.

Between gadgets like this, the use of smart agricultural drones, and even self-driving tractors, the farm of 2027 could look very, very different to the one of 2017.

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