Food producers often analyse the sugar content and moisture of certain agricultural products such as sugar beets for developing new hybrid species.
In the past, however, it was only possible to deploy such technologies in the laboratory or in a processing plant.
Realising that it would also be useful to be able to obtain such information actually during the harvesting process (to allow farmers to manage and plan crop production for consistent quality), researchers at the Fargo, ND-based NDSU Research Foundation have patented an ‘on-the-go system’ that can do just that.
The system, which uses a sensor coupled to a harvester/defoliator, uses a knife to slice a cross-section from the crown of a sugar beet during harvesting. An illumination chamber then radiates the exposed crown, and a sensor receives radiation from the exposed sample.
A spectrometer then converts the reflected radiation to a spectral signal. A computer digitises and processes the spectral signal to produce data points relating to the sugar content of the sugar beet.
The system’s inventors say that the system could also be used in other applications too, such as in a food processing facility to categorize the quality of a particular agricultural product.
The patent on the invention can be found here