New university-developed soil technology goes commercial

New university-developed soil technology goes commercial

Purdue University researchers say new soil technology can improve yields by helping farmers understanding how their soil functions

An ag start-up is commercializing a university-developed innovation that could help farmers improve yields and crop management by helping the better understand soil's functions.

Related: Rapid soil nitrogen test on USDA's list of new innovations

Agsoil Analytics Inc. was co-founded by Phillip Owens, associate professor in Purdue's Department of Agronomy, and Jenette Ashtekar, a postdoctoral research assistant also in the Department of Agronomy.

Phillip R. Owens, from left, Purdue University associate professor of agronomy, and doctoral graduate Jenette Ashtekar, compare a soil sample in an auger to a functional soil map on a digital tablet.

The company has developed a soil-mapping technology that provides highly detailed information on soil that can help farmers make decisions based on inputs and other factors. Owens said that current soil-mapping technologies are expensive to develop and are usually made static after one year.

"What makes our technology unique is that it's less expensive to produce because it's utilizing legacy information for the original version of the map, as well as related processes that we've understood for a very long time," he said. "Once we've made our original map we also will use very directed point sampling for collecting more soil analysis so that we can continue to add more information to the maps and improve them over time.

"Annually, we will guide producers where to sample to make sure we capitalize on all the information. We make sure every dollar spent on samples and understanding the field is incorporated within the platform," he said.

Soil predication
The Agsoil Analytics functional map technology is able to predict properties like organic carbon content, clay content, the location of water tables, the native nutrient potential, cation exchange capacity and more.

It is also able to show categorized information like the highest- and lowest-yielding areas, how much water the soil would store after a rainfall event, and how fast a farmer could expect runoff.

Continue reading after the jump >>

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Owens said that farmers and producers will ultimately benefit from the soil-mapping technology. A third party agricultural technology company, however, will deliver the technology through a platform that is compatible to the application of individual farmers.

Related: Portable X-rays part of 'same day' soil test research

Agsoil Analytics wants to connect with companies with a large client base that are interested in the stewardship of land as well as the quality and consistency of the product and the sustainability of the producers.

"Our technology has been successful thus far because we developed it with partners who work alongside us to incorporate the technology, working together to make it as beneficial as possible," said Owens. "We'd like to partner with markets outside of the United States as well as farmers with crops beyond corn, soy beans, cotton and nuts."

Agsoil Analytics developed the technology with funding from the USDA and Purdue University.

TAGS: USDA
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