Spectroscopy in Agriculture & Food

The need for greater efficiency, quality, and safety in agricultural production is increasingly addressed through the introduction of spectroscopic techniques during and after production and processing. The rugged and field-deployable characteristics of compact, dispersive array spectrometers and the inherent benefits of fiber-optic sampling drive the increasing adoption of this technology in agricultural operations.

The application of spectroscopy in botany, horticulture, and agriculture enables sophisticated spectral analysis of wavelengths of interest to plant scientists. Fiber-optic spectrometers provide the added benefit of real-time in-situ measurements of plants. Avantes’ instruments are used in various plant applications ranging from chlorophyll detection in crops to sugar (ºBx or Brix) measurements in fruit and radiometric measurements of light levels in greenhouse environments.

Avantes works with various agricultural customers ranging from researchers to industrial operations.

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Learn more about spectroscopy applications in Precision Agriculture

Fruit Sorting

Fruit-sorting operations often utilize multi-variate spectra analysis in the NIR 850-1100 nm to derive sugar (⁰Bx or Brix). Avantes’ AvaSpec-HS2048XL-EVO back-thinned CCD spectrometers are ideal instruments for this diffuse reflection application, where sensitivity and high speed are required.

Leaf/Foliage Measurements

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Direct leaf measurement provides for the characterization of various plant health parameters. The AvaSpec-Mini2048CL is an ideal instrument for handheld agricultural measurements such as leaf reflection or transmission.

Numerous plant biologists have deployed the AvaSpec-ULS2048CL-EVO spectrometers into the field for in-situ reflection measurements of fruit and flower specimen using the AvaLight-XE pulsed Xenon source for an excitation source and a fiber-optic reflection probe for sampling.

Plant Health and Intelligent Fertilizer Application

Chlorophyll measurements in the visible and near-infrared regions are commonly utilized in agriculture and can approximate plant health using reflection techniques on plant foliage. The AvaSpec-ULS2048CL-EVO spectrometer is particularly well suited to this application due to its high speed and quantum efficiency. Integrated systems have been developed with the AvaSpec-ULS2048CL-EVO to measure chlorophyll in real-time and intelligently apply fertilizers to crops based on sophisticated chemometric models while driving through a field at 40 kilometers per hour.

Grain Analysis

The third and second overtones of the near-infrared range are used to determine organic nitrogen and protein through the characterization of the C-H, N-H, and O-H stretching vibrations in these spectral regions. These measurements are often used in the agricultural industry to analyze grains.

The previously mentioned bands are weak absorption bands, which can facilitate unprocessed grain seed because low absorbance means that the material is mostly transparent, allowing for deeper penetration. The downside to these bands is that they produce low signal intensity, which prevents the need for good signal-to-noise performance. 

The AvaSpec-Mini-NIR is an ideal instrument for this measurement. For even higher performance into the second overtone, the AvaSpec-NIR256-1.7-EVO spectrometer is a very affordable InGaAs sensor instrument.

Agricultural Grain Analysis

Dairy Product Characterization

Dairy operations are some of the most demanding for spectroscopic process control in agriculture. Near-infrared spectroscopy is a non-destructive method for analyzing milk content for proteins, fat, water content, carbohydrates, and minerals, among other constituents. The traditionally used chemical analysis methods require specialized personnel and laboratory equipment and are often destructive in methodology and therefore wasteful.

NIR spectroscopy also curbs adulteration of dairy products with substances such as vegetable fats, sugars, and foreign proteins and monitors and standardizes production yields.

Avantes NIRLine instruments are ideally suited to this application with 3-stage thermoelectric cooling and fast numerical apertures optical designs to maximize spectral acquisition speeds. The AvaSpec-NIR256/512-1.7-HSC-EVO instruments are ideal candidates for this application. 

For easy integration into different machines, we offer the AvaSpec-Mini-NIR. This compact, versatile near-infrared spectrometer is well suited for various agricultural applications, including grain analysis and dairy product characterization.

Why choose Avantes for your agricultural or food application?

  • Easily specify colour and quality of food
  • Reliability in the field with robust technology and simplicity
  • High production yield enabled by fast spectroscopy for in-line monitoring systems (high sensitivity, fast data acquisition and transfer)
  • Customized products for seamless OEM integration

Contact a sales engineer

These include some of the products mentioned in the application examples above. Contact one of our sales engineers for advice to find the perfect setup for your specific application.

Application Examples

Below are some detailed application notes on various uses of spectroscopy in the agriculture and food industry.