Demands for increased agricultural production and sustainable farming methods are always growing. Consumers demand high-quality, convenience, and diversity of selection. Quality of food products is dependent on internal and external factors that are potentially quantifiable and can be objective which leads the world’s researchers to seek novel ways to apply data to agricultural production.
Benefits of NIR Spectroscopy
Near-infrared spectroscopy has been studied and applied in numerous applications across five key product areas: fruits and vegetables, meats and fish, beverages and dairy, cereals and grain stocks, grapes, and olives; but also, areas regarding production factors like soils and manures, and environmental applications. The mechanisms of near-infrared spectroscopy are well understood and the benefits are clear. NIR spectroscopy can deliver rapid, accurate, costeffective results in the lab or in the field with little or no sample prep, and multiple parameters can measure with the same scan.
Handheld NIR Reflection Spectroscopy
Avantes has shared applications in the past, but new applications are discovered, or rather developed, every day, all around the world using Avantes spectrometers. The Avantes family of InGaAs diode array-based spectrometers for the NIR gets a new member in 2020. The new AvaSpecMini-NIR will be a game-changer in handheld NIR applications. With nearly the power and resolution of the full-sized desktop InGaAs spectrometers, this instrument packs the performance into an ultra-small deck-of-card-sized form factor. This new device is a natural fit for the precision agriculture market.
Fruits and Vegetables
Avantes instruments are utilized in numerous grading and sorting at-harvest applications for fruits and vegetables that use NIR spectroscopy including but not limited to apples, cherries, avocadoes, peaches, and mangoes. Nearinfrared spectroscopy allows the rapid, nondestructive measurement of several internal parameters of ripeness and quality such as water content, soluble sugars content (SSC), acidity, pH, and aromatic compounds like anthocyanin. Handheld applications for near-infrared reflection spectroscopy would facilitate such measurements while produce is still on the vine.
Meats, Fish and Eggs
Near-infrared spectroscopy in meat grading enables the discrimination of proteins to fat content, and measurements of moisture content, color, pH, and indicators of tenderness. It can also detect the presence of common contaminants like volatile nitrogen. The non-destructive, nonchemical nature of spectroscopic sampling can bolster yields, for example the monitoring of egg quality through the shell.
Beverages and Dairy
Similar applications for analyzing dairy products are using Avantes spectrometers to measure
proteins, fats, water, carbohydrates and minerals in milk and other dairy products, as well as identify adulterated products
Wine and Grape Production
Near-infrared spectroscopy has been explored as a tool to predict ripeness and characterize grape parameters known to affect wine flavor and quality such as soluble sugar content, acidity, and aromatic compounds such as anthocyanins and polyphenols. Grape characteristics at the time of harvest are the single largest contributing factor to the eventual quality of the wine produced. Spectral reflection in the near-infrared has a very high validation rate as a rapid, non-destructive measurement tool for assessing grape quality at harvest .
Cereals and Feed
Researchers in wheat, barley, rice, and soybean production are exploring near-infrared spectroscopy to monitor crop health and growing conditions, identify various plant diseases and contaminants, and to assess crop quality at harvest for grading and pricing. A recent project with the US Department of Agriculture employed NIR spectroscopy to predict protein content of wheat harvests. Wheat pricing is dependent on protein content of the grains, making maximizing protein content a high priority for wheat producers. Similar research also aims to tune the application of nitrogen fertilizers to optimize farming practices.
Soils, Manures and Other Growing Constituents
There are few things more important to the future of sustainable farming than soil management. Soil characterization determines what manner of treatments or mitigation might be required, or even what crops might be suitable for a particular area. NIR spectroscopy allows rapid data collection on moisture content, and compaction and soil density. The utilization of manure as a fertilizer and for general land application is a matter of great importance to environmental regulatory agencies as well as farmers looking for quantifiable parameters during application. NIR spectroscopy is has been used effectively in research and industrial applications to quantify manure for N, NH4-N, K2O, P2O5 constituents.
The challenge for Ag/Food application innovators
The significant challenge to developing an agricultural application for diffuse reflection spectroscopy in the NIR range. Getting the most out of spectral data requires special processing and the development of a calibration model. Avantes and our partners can support innovators in agriculture through collaboration from development through commercialization.
Avantes supports early application development
The initial development of a viable application begins with developing the calibration indices, or database of spectral data compiled with samples in various conditions from which mentioned above. Avantes also offers feasibility testing and a widely popular demos program to ensure system design and instrument suitability before purchase or allow a developer to get a head start on integration testing in advance of receipt of purchase. Dozens of prospective customers make use of the demo program each month to test drive Avantes instruments. Establishing a relationship as a component supplier for an application developer or system designer requires a collaborative partnership to ensure engineering specifications and performance are an ideal application match and integration is successful. Scaling production also requires economies of scale on parts and components, and a repeatable standard of performance. Avantes delivers top-rated customer support, turn-key interoperability, and world-class instrument performance repeatability. Don’t take our word for it, Avantes is an ISO 9001:2015 accredited organization and stands by our products with a 3 year Warranty.