Smart tech delivers more nutritious crops

A new hand-held device due to be launched next year could help farmers mitigate the effects of climate change on food quality.

GrainSense, developed by a Finnish company of the same name, analyses wheat, oats, rye and barley by using near-infrared light. The amount of light absorbed provides users with valuable insights in terms of protein, moisture, oil and carbohydrate levels.

The whole process takes about five seconds and is linked with GPS data. Farmers can access the information in real-time via an app on their mobile phone. The speed of the whole process is a major breakthrough given that crop composition is traditionally only available post harvest.

But there’s another huge advantage too: the device “could allow farmers to mitigate the negative effects of climate change early by adding fertilisers or tweaking moisture levels as crops grow,” New Scientist reported.

In August, researchers at Harvard University showed how the protein levels of various crops fall under elevated levels of carbon dioxide. If emissions continue to rise, millions could be plunged into protein deficiency, they warned.

The technology used in GrainSense could eventually be used in similar gadgets for shoppers, who could scan products for their nutritional content.

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