Corn continues to play a critical role in global agriculture, whether it be for food production or for its various other industrial uses, carrying a 2019 estimated market value of $53 billion in the U.S. alone. Depending on the crop’s purpose, moisture in corn kernels needs to be tested regularly for optimal harvesting time. With this in mind and heavy backing from crop and specifically corn related industries and research centers, the Israeli based Consumer Physics had developed, SCiO, the world’s first-ever pocket-sized connected micro-spectrometer.
The venture was led back in 2019 by key players in the U.S. seed and corn industries including Corteva Agriscience, Syngenta, Cargill, Beck’s, and Precision Planting.
Bringing the lab into the field
Terry Allen, Consumer Physics’ North America Head of Business Development explained: “We successfully transferred NIR technology from the lab into the field, allowing growers and operators to get more data and make better decisions.”
The hand-held device provides the only in-field moisture test that sends results straight to a tailored app on the grower’s phone, as well to the cloud. It brings the lab into the field, allowing growers lab-grade NIR crop analysis in a matter of seconds. Essentially, saving countless hours of lab work, which required picking random cobs, shelling them (the process of removing the kernel from the cob), grinding them, and testing for moisture, only to have to repeat this tedious task, again and again. Considering that just in the U.S, there are around 90 million acres of cornfields, we’re talking a lot of lab work.
Allen continued to expand on the solution’s advantages: “precise moisture measurement in real-time has a direct impact on the corn business' bottom line. SCiO was seen to improve forecasting by about 2%-3%, which is likely to save tens of thousands of dollars on an average 1000-acre field.”
SCiO is able to monitor moisture levels, harvesting times, crop performance, and more. The Israeli company uses optical, algorithmic, and computer technologies to take the traditional NIR spectrometer (Near Infrared) and turn into a device a farmer could easily fit in his pocket, but more importantly, potentially saving a lot of money on drying costs. The company claims that the solution is non-destructive, but rather a simple process of testing 5 cobs, with results quickly analyzed by Consumer Physic’s algorithms and sent back to the user’s smartphone. The company notes that SCiO’s accuracy rate is the same as if it was done in a lab, offering moisture levels from 8%-80%, with optimal corn harvesting done at around 30% moisture with higher moisture levels targeted for seed producers.