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


 

 

 

Impulsehttps://www.vttresearch.com/ImpulseImpulse
By measuring you can improvehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/By-measuring-you-can-improve.aspxBy measuring you can improve
Advancing cyber security on several frontshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Advancing-cyber-security-on-several-fronts.aspxAdvancing cyber security on several fronts
All sights on generationhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/All-sights-on-generation.aspxAll sights on generation
A machine is more humanehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/A-machine-is-more-humane.aspxA machine is more humane
Before information gets lost in numbershttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Before-information-gets-lost-in-numbers.aspxBefore information gets lost in numbers
Cell screening leads to new cancer treatmentshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Cell-screening-leads-to-new-cancer-treatments.aspxCell screening leads to new cancer treatments
From ideas to major innovationshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/From-drawing-board-to-major-innovation.aspxFrom ideas to major innovations
Jari Gustafsson: Old and new workhorses as recession beatershttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Old-and-new-workhorses-as-recession-beaters.aspxJari Gustafsson: Old and new workhorses as recession beaters
Research with impacthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Research-with-impact.aspxResearch with impact
We cannot afford not to have robotshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/We-cannot-afford-not-to-have-robots.aspxWe cannot afford not to have robots
Industrial cyber security improves through cooperationhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Industrial-cyber-security-improves-through-cooperation.aspxIndustrial cyber security improves through cooperation
It is the duty of entrepreneurs to seek growthhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/It-is-the-duty-of-entrepreneurs-to-seek-growth.aspxIt is the duty of entrepreneurs to seek growth
Petri Kalliokoski: Artificial intelligence moves from words to deedshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Petri-Kalliokoski-Artificial-intelligence-moves-from-words-to-deeds.aspxPetri Kalliokoski: Artificial intelligence moves from words to deeds
Ambassadors of service-mindednesshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Ambassadors-of-service-mindedness.aspxAmbassadors of service-mindedness
Matti Apunen: A problem called excellencehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Matti-Apunen-A-problem-called-excellence.aspxMatti Apunen: A problem called excellence
Comfy but energy efficient homeshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Comfy-but-energy-efficient-homes.aspxComfy but energy efficient homes
Maintenance support for astronautshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Maintenance-support-for-astronauts.aspxMaintenance support for astronauts
At the digital forefront of mininghttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/At-the-digital-forefront-of-mining.aspxAt the digital forefront of mining
Return on investmentshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Return-on-investments.aspxReturn on investments
The creators of the future get down to businesshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-creators-of-the-future-get-down-to-business.aspxThe creators of the future get down to business
Professor Tiina Mattila-Sandholm, Valio: Businesses and researchers need to find each other in a new wayhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Professor-Tiina-Mattila-Sandholm-Valio-Businesses-and-researchers-need-to-find-each-other-in-a-new-way.aspxProfessor Tiina Mattila-Sandholm, Valio: Businesses and researchers need to find each other in a new way
Impulse 1/2015https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2015.aspxImpulse 1/2015
Swift and agile in business and in the foresthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Swift-and-agile-in-business-and-in-the-forest.aspxSwift and agile in business and in the forest
Impulse 2/2014https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-2-2014.aspxImpulse 2/2014
Impulse 2/2016https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-2-2016.aspxImpulse 2/2016
Finnish expertise for solving global problemshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Finnish-expertise-for-solving-global-problems.aspxFinnish expertise for solving global problems
Raw material for fuels, chemicals and food from atmospheric carbon dioxidehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Raw-material-for-fuels-chemicals-and-food-from-atmospheric-carbon-dioxide.aspxRaw material for fuels, chemicals and food from atmospheric carbon dioxide
Impulse 2/2017https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-2-2017.aspxImpulse 2/2017
Are environmental claims believable?https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Are-environmental-claims-believable.aspxAre environmental claims believable?
Automation gives packages wingshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Automation-gives-packages-wings.aspxAutomation gives packages wings
Intelligence for machineshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Intelligence-for-machines.aspxIntelligence for machines
Productive use for Finnish biomasshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Productive-use-for-Finnish-biomass.aspxProductive use for Finnish biomass
Senior Scientist Jukka Hemila, VTT: From technology hype to customer understandinghttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Senior-Scientist-Jukka-Hemila-VTT-From-technology-hype-to-customer-understanding.aspxSenior Scientist Jukka Hemila, VTT: From technology hype to customer understanding
Impulse 1/2016https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2016.aspxImpulse 1/2016
Finland is good investmenthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Finland-is-good-investment.aspxFinland is good investment
Converting rags to design clotheshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Converting-rags-to-design-clothes.aspxConverting rags to design clothes
What's going on in Australia?https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Whats-going-on-in-Australia.aspxWhat's going on in Australia?
More speed to network services with 5Ghttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/More-speed-to-network-services-with-5G.aspxMore speed to network services with 5G
Towards bioeconomy with the power of woodhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Towards-bioeconomy-with-the-power-of-wood.aspxTowards bioeconomy with the power of wood
Impulse 1/2017https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2017.aspxImpulse 1/2017
Media production and housing services are preparing for the 5G networkshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Media-production-and-housing-services-are-preparing-for-the-5G-networks.aspxMedia production and housing services are preparing for the 5G networks
Sustainability and acceptability for mining operationshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Sustainability-and-acceptability-for-mining-operations.aspxSustainability and acceptability for mining operations
Impulse 2/2015https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-2-2015.aspxImpulse 2/2015
Impulse 1/2014https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2014.aspxImpulse 1/2014
Digital ecosystems are emerginghttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Digital-ecosystems-are-emerging.aspxDigital ecosystems are emerging
Miniaturising devices to fit on your palmhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Miniaturising-devices-to-fit-on-your-palm.aspxMiniaturising devices to fit on your palm
Robotics – technology with multi-faceted potentialhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Robotics-technology-with-multi-faceted-potential.aspxRobotics – technology with multi-faceted potential
The future 5G network proceeds to test phase in Ouluhttps://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
A birthday gift from us to ourselveshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/A-birthday-gift-from-us-to-ourselves.aspxA birthday gift from us to ourselves

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 +3 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 +3 time zone