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As food demand doubles, NIR Spectroscopy helps farms improve productivity

Mostafa Medhat
4 min Read
March 23, 2023

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Feeding a global population that is expected to swell by 2 billion people to reach 9.7 billion by 2050 is an existential challenge that will push the world's agricultural supply to its limits. To double food production by 2050 with no major increase in arable land on the horizon, 90 percent of the crop production growth will have to be generated by higher crop yields and increasing cropping intensity.

To attain this massive leap in agricultural productivity, farmers are turning to “smart farming,” which describes the utilization of technologies, including artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT), to gather critical information about growing conditions.

In this new information age in agriculture, farmers can collect and analyze data about everything from weather and soil conditions to temperature and water usage —in real time—to understand factors impacting efficiency and adjust them to significantly increase productivity.

NIRS on the Farm to Determine Quality of Forage, Crop and Animal Feed

Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is attracting attention for its significant contributions to smart farming. NIRS works by shining near-infrared light through materials and then analyzing the resulting spectra using chemometric techniques. Using this technique, NIRS can determine the chemical properties of forages and crops, providing critical data on the nutritional quality of animal feed.

Among the measured properties are levels of moisture, protein, starch and fiber. A typical use case would be measuring moisture in a feed crop to determine the right time to harvest. Another would be simultaneously measuring the moisture, protein in animal feed to optimize Total Mixed Rations (TMR) to boost productivity. In addition, NIRS provides detailed information about the quality of crops, which can help farmers determine pricing as well as suitability of the crop for human or animal consumption.

The NeoSpectra Scanner, which is designed for in-field use, is a portable FT-NIR analyzer with a large collection area to effectively analyze moisture, protein and other parameters in homogeneous and inhomogeneous samples (Examples: soybean meal and corn silage).

Key Benefits of the NeoSpectra Scanner, a Portable FT-NIR Analyzer

With the Scanner, users can analyze moisture in real time, quickly detect trends and changes in feed quality, and screen the quality of incoming ingredients.The backend of this process leverages a library of detailed spectral data for each sample type provided by NIR experts; including laboratories, scientists, and researchers; who have tested thousands of samples over time. The sample information is used to develop predictive models that can then be applied to reliably interpret data collected on future samples analyzed in the field. Field testing allows for samples to be analyzed considerably more quickly and more often than testing in a laboratory.

How it Works

Like other new technologies, the NeoSpectra platform of portable FT-NIR analyzers and software have transformed complex science into a straightforward user experience.For the end user, the process of analyzing a sample in the field is as simple as downloading the NeoSpectra Scan software, choosing a sample type and parameter/s to measure, and then scanning the sample.The Scanner works with models from the NeoSpectra Lab Store, a secure place to discover and download test models to perform in-field analysis in industries such as agriculture, food, life sciences, and others.

Making Every Acre Count

With demand for food set to double in coming years, the agricultural industry should squeeze every ounce of productivity from available land and feed that it yields. Smart-farm technologies are paving the way for unprecedented farm productivity by delivering real-time data that can be used to optimize farming practices. NeoSpectra is already proving to be a valuable smart-farming tool, with the capability to analyze a variety of samples for multiple parameters. Discover how our partnership with Dairyland Laboratories is bringing this technology to farms and feed suppliers throughout the United States.

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