Information about science based innovations, solid facts to support decision-making, performance and business development for VTT’s partners, customers and anyone interested in high technology and its applications.
A magazine on science, technology and business

​​​​​

VTT’s spin-off GrainSense puts a laboratory in farmers’ hands

Milka Lahnalammi-Vesivalo | 13.6.2016

​Fast and reliable seed analyses enable cost optimisation and accurate pricing. The device developed by GrainSense gives farmers information about the quality of their crops right there in the field.

​Farmers have to continuously make choices to ensure the quality and yield of their crops. Farmers also need reliable information about the quality of their crops when they come to sell them.The quality of crops is measured by their composition, such as protein content, and the price of crops always depends on the quality of the batch in question. At the moment, farmers need to send seed samples to laboratories to be able to make cost-effective decisions during the process or to set a price for their crops.

Among the most important factors that determine price and therefore also cultivation methods are protein content and moisture levels. High-protein crops are generally sold to bakeries and breweries, and crops with lower protein content are used as animal feed.

“Farmers need accurate information about the quality of their goods to be able to negotiate sales and prices. Knowing the correct protein content of crops used as animal feed is also important in trade between farmers: Livestock need just the right amount of protein to ensure a consistent quality of meat, eggs, and dairy products,” explains GrainSense’s CEO Edvard Krogius.

Device for optimising farming costs

GrainSense’s invention is palm-sized, portable and battery-powered. When seeds are inserted into the device, infrared waves inside the device are able to analyse the protein, oil, carbohydrate and moisture content of the seeds in a matter of seconds.

Farmers are able to use the information to make production-related choices during the cultivation process.

“It is important for farmers to be able to optimise fertilisation and drying time, which are important contributors to the costs of cereal production,” Krogius says.

Accurate analysis of grain quality also allows farmers, for instance, to sort crops of different seed composition into separate silos ready for different purposes.

The usefulness of the information produced by the analyser is boosted by GPS and a link to cloud services. Software updates and calibration can also be done remotely.

IMP_1_16_grainsense_lisäkuva1.jpg
 

GrainSense CEO Edvard Krogius predicts huge demand for the device now that the protein content of grains has become a priority in crop cultivation.

Aiming for small and affordable

The aim in developing the device was, in addition to small size, to make it affordable for farmers to buy.

“The price is a few thousand euros; not quite as expensive as a tractor, but it is still an investment. Our aim has been to make it possible for farmers to get their money back from the investment during the next growing season,” Krogius explains.

The technology used in the device is confidential, but the key was to make a photodetector operate at a healthy noise-to-signal ratio. This was achieved thanks to multiple factors, of which the developers of the device can say no more.

The technology was originally developed for the pharmaceutical industry, but it became apparent during the process that it could also be used in farming.

“After several discussions with representatives of the Natural Resources Institute Finland, ProAgria and the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners, we realised that the invention had business potential,” says former VTT research scientist and now employee of GrainSense Ralf Marbach.

Made in Finland

High quality is vital for the device, which is why it is being manufactured in Finland, at least for the time being.

“We use several subcontractors, in addition to which there are four people working on product development and commercialisation at GrainSense,” Krogius explains.

To sell and market the device, the company has partnered up with Berner Ltd., and initially the target market is limited to Finland, Sweden, and the Baltic states.

The further development of the device will focus on its GPS dimension and connections to the cloud. GrainSense is also still fine-tuning the design of the device and developing solutions for portability, for example.

IMP_1_16_grainsense_lisäkuva2.jpg
 

The GrainSense device analyses seeds with the help of infrared waves.

Sights set on the global agricultural market

Finland is not a well-known agricultural operat​or globally, but the device developed by GrainSense can help us to penetrate the global agricultural market. The device is also proof of VTT’s investment in spectroscopy know-how, which has yielded several commercial products in recent years.

“This device could not have been developed without VTT’s investment in spectroscopy know-how and its ability to attract internationally competitive research scientists,” Krogius says.

Marbach, who was born in Germany and now works full-time at GrainSense, also believes that the business and the product are all set for success.

“There is definite demand for the product, and the timing is also good, globally speaking.”

End users, i.e. farmers, have been involved in the product development process since the beginning.
The device can be used across the entire agricultural supply chain, from farmers to consumers, who ultimately judge the quality of produce. The invention also has potential for further development, which can create new jobs in Finland.

“Plans are already in place for our first product development project. In the long term, GrainSense also has opportunities for larger-scale research cooperation and therefore for creating new commercial applications,” Marbach explains.

Grainsense

Founders of GrainSense;
Ralf Marbach  (inventor and founder),
Jouni Huopana (founder),
Ykä Marjanen (founding member),
Max Schulman (founding member),
Arve Lukander (founding member) and
Edvard Krogius (founding member),

Investors; VTT Ventures Ltd., Berner Ltd. and three Nordic investors from an agricultural background.
Development loan; Tekes has granted GrainSense a development loan.

www.grainsense.com


 

 

 

Impulsehttp://www.vttresearch.com/ImpulseImpulse
A birthday gift from us to ourselveshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/A-birthday-gift-from-us-to-ourselves.aspxA birthday gift from us to ourselves
Advancing cyber security on several frontshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Advancing-cyber-security-on-several-fronts.aspxAdvancing cyber security on several fronts
A future without wastewater?http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/A-future-without-wastewater.aspxA future without wastewater?
A machine is more humanehttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/A-machine-is-more-humane.aspxA machine is more humane
Are environmental claims believable?http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Are-environmental-claims-believable.aspxAre environmental claims believable?
At the digital forefront of mininghttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/At-the-digital-forefront-of-mining.aspxAt the digital forefront of mining
Brazil paves the way for bioenergyhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Brazil-paves-the-way-for-bioenergy.aspxBrazil paves the way for bioenergy
Business angel speaks out: Growth from the international arenahttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Business-angel-speaks-out-Growth-from-the-international-arena.aspxBusiness angel speaks out: Growth from the international arena
Challenges conceal opportunitieshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Challenges-conceal-opportunities.aspxChallenges conceal opportunities
Converting rags to design clotheshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Converting-rags-to-design-clothes.aspxConverting rags to design clothes
Cyber security requires more than just technological competenceshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Cyber-security-requires-more-than-just-technological-competences.aspxCyber security requires more than just technological competences
Demand for energy storage is growing rapidlyhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Demand-for-energy-storage-is-growing-rapidly.aspxDemand for energy storage is growing rapidly
Finland on its way towards low-carbon year 2050http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Finland-on-its-way-towards-low-carbon-year-2050.aspxFinland on its way towards low-carbon year 2050
From ideas to major innovationshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/From-drawing-board-to-major-innovation.aspxFrom ideas to major innovations
Intelligence for machineshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Intelligence-for-machines.aspxIntelligence for machines
Intelligent transport – a trump card for Finnish exportshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Intelligent-transport-a-trump-card-for-Finnish-exports.aspxIntelligent transport – a trump card for Finnish exports
It is the duty of entrepreneurs to seek growthhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/It-is-the-duty-of-entrepreneurs-to-seek-growth.aspxIt is the duty of entrepreneurs to seek growth
Research with impacthttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Research-with-impact.aspxResearch with impact
Risk management in an increasingly complex worldhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Risk-management-in-an-increasingly-complex-world.aspxRisk management in an increasingly complex world
Sustainability and acceptability for mining operationshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Sustainability-and-acceptability-for-mining-operations.aspxSustainability and acceptability for mining operations
The creators of the future get down to businesshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-creators-of-the-future-get-down-to-business.aspxThe creators of the future get down to business
We must maintain Finland as an attractive target for investmenthttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/We-must-maintain-Finland-as-an-attractive-target-for-investment.aspxWe must maintain Finland as an attractive target for investment
What's going on in Australia?http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Whats-going-on-in-Australia.aspxWhat's going on in Australia?
Why do so many women feel chilly indoorshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Why-do-so-many-women-feel-chilly-indoors.aspxWhy do so many women feel chilly indoors
Business for transportationhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Business-for-transportation.aspxBusiness for transportation
Autonomous systems are proliferating rapidly in industryhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Autonomous-systems-are-proliferating-rapidly-in-industry.aspxAutonomous systems are proliferating rapidly in industry
Impulse 2/2015http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-2-2015.aspxImpulse 2/2015
Impulse 1/2015http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2015.aspxImpulse 1/2015
Impulse 1/2014http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2014.aspxImpulse 1/2014
Impulse 2/2017http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-2-2017.aspxImpulse 2/2017
Impulse 2/2016http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-2-2016.aspxImpulse 2/2016
Impulse 1/2016http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2016.aspxImpulse 1/2016
Petri Kalliokoski: Artificial intelligence moves from words to deedshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Petri-Kalliokoski-Artificial-intelligence-moves-from-words-to-deeds.aspxPetri Kalliokoski: Artificial intelligence moves from words to deeds
Passion spurs researchhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/passion-spurs-research.aspxPassion spurs research
Impulse 2/2014http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-2-2014.aspxImpulse 2/2014
Modelling and simulation facilitateshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Modelling-and-simulation-facilitates.aspxModelling and simulation facilitates
Open-source infrastructure in product development for the electromechanical industryhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Open-source-infrastructure-in-product-development-for-the-electromechanical-industry.aspxOpen-source infrastructure in product development for the electromechanical industry
World in 2030 - answers to tomorrow’s questionshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/World-in-2030-answers-to-tomorrows-questions.aspxWorld in 2030 - answers to tomorrow’s questions
Minima Processor LTD – World record in energy efficiency accelerates development of IoThttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Minima-Processor-LTD-World-record-in-energy-efficiency-accelerates-development-of-IoT.aspxMinima Processor LTD – World record in energy efficiency accelerates development of IoT
Towards bioeconomy with the power of woodhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Towards-bioeconomy-with-the-power-of-wood.aspxTowards bioeconomy with the power of wood
Impulse 1/2017http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2017.aspxImpulse 1/2017
Industrial cyber security improves through cooperationhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Industrial-cyber-security-improves-through-cooperation.aspxIndustrial cyber security improves through cooperation
Multifunctional polysaccharides open up new opportunities for the food processing industryhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Multifunctional-polysaccharides-open-up-new-opportunities-for-the-food-processing-industry.aspxMultifunctional polysaccharides open up new opportunities for the food processing industry
Boost for propeller developmenthttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Boost-for-propeller-development.aspxBoost for propeller development
Jaakko Eskola: ”The ability to reinvent yourself is vital to success.”http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/”The-ability-to-reinvent-yourself-is-vital-to-success”.aspxJaakko Eskola: ”The ability to reinvent yourself is vital to success.”
Ambassadors of service-mindednesshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Ambassadors-of-service-mindedness.aspxAmbassadors of service-mindedness
The rise of robotic carshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-rise-of-robotic-cars.aspxThe rise of robotic cars
The future 5G network proceeds to test phase in Ouluhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-future-5G-network-proceeds-to-test-phase-in-Oulu.aspxThe future 5G network proceeds to test phase in Oulu
New synthetic biology technologies are revolutionising microbial designhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/New-synthetic-biology-technologies-are-revolutionising-microbial-design.aspxNew synthetic biology technologies are revolutionising microbial design

CONTACT US

P.O. Box 1000, FI-02044 VTT, Finland
Tel. exchange +358 20 722 111
Opening hours Mon - Fri 8:00 - 16:30,
UTC +2 time zone

CUSTOMER SERVICE

info@vtt.fi
Tel. +358 20 722 7070
Opening hours Mon - Fri 9:00 - 11:00 and 12:00 - 15:00,
UTC +2 time zone