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A cloud of soil

07 July 2018 - Food Science

The Americans may have Silicon Valley but the Dutch have the Food Valley, a conglomerate of food companies and Wageningen University. A recent innovation from this region as reported by NOS News (Link) is a handheld scanner for the determination of soil quality by company SoilCares.
The scanner, held in direct contact with any soil, has a NIR spectrometer and a EC sensor for data collection. The resulting profile as collected in the field is to be uploaded via phone back to the company and matched with a database. Ten minutes later a report is available with recommendations for soil improvements. More nitrogen or less phosphorus? What else is needed to improve harvest yields? NIR in soil analysis is nothing new see a recent review here but the people behind the innovation have the ambition to collect soil from around the world to form a global database. Hence the soil in the cloud or a cloud of soil. Get it? So far the company has a footprint in 10 countries so there is a lot of work ahead. Soilcares is part of the Dutch Sprouts Holding with a mission statement something like helping out farmers around the world with big data.