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PhotonDelta and Research Partner Apply Integrated Photonics to Agrifood

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WAGENINGEN, Netherlands, May 18, 2023 — During the Post Harvest Unlimited Conference held this week at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, PhotonDelta and OnePlanet Research Center launched the Integrated Photonics for Agrifood roadmap. The roadmap, according to PhotonDelta, lays out the future of sustainable food production and distribution using photonic microchip technology. Specifically, it describes the role integrated photonics and photonics technology will play in the transformation of sustainable farming practices and food distribution: maximizing yield and minimizing food waste throughout the food supply chain.

Multiple organizations contributed to the roadmap’s creation, including MantiSpectra, Eindhoven University of Technology, and Delft University of Technology.

Precision agriculture, a practice that uses sensors to enable highly precise and optimized growing and distribution techniques, is at the forefront of this effort. Precision agriculture, the partners said, requires technology that is small, cost-effective, and scalable for high-volume and low-cost production. 
Lex Oosterveld (OnePlanet) Launches the roadmap at the Postharvest Conference. Courtesy of PhotonDelta.
Lex Oosterveld of OnePlanet launches the roadmap at the Postharvest Unlimited Conference at Wageningen University. Courtesy of PhotonDelta.
Photonic integrated circuits (PICs) are ideal for optical sensing applications, particularly real-time remote sensing of crop and food composition, both in the field and throughout the supply chain. Miniaturization and low power consumption make PICs well suited to hand-held devices as well.

Sensor fusion, defined as the potential to incorporate multiple sensing technologies into a single portable device, enables data from multiple sensor sources to be combined for more accurate detection and quantitative analysis. Among the individual sensor technologies identified in the report are lidar, near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy and imaging, and Raman spectroscopy.

According to the report, when applied to agriculture, lidar can be used to map orchards, soil conditions, and water flow, as well as the precise location of farm machinery and livestock. NIR testing can provide detailed information about the composition of products such as milk and produce, as well as soil characteristics. It can be used in inspection to assess shape and anomalies. Raman spectroscopy can be used to carry out highly sensitive and specific analysis of chemicals. Applied to agriculture, it can be used to determine growth conditions by measuring the chemical composition of plants. Raman spectroscopy also has applications in livestock management to monitor and control emissions such as ammonia, methane, nitrogen dioxide, and nitrous oxide.

Even just a handful of platforms can support multiple agrifood applications. Visible and NIR spectroscopy and imaging, for example, can measure nutrients in plants and soil, chlorophyll, chemical components such as protein and sugars, as well as inspection applications. Integrated photonic sensors will enable farmers to give crops the optimum amount of water, light, and nutrients, as well as to assess crop conditions and to provide early detection of diseases.

In addition to supporting technologies, the report identifies trends in precision agriculture and food processing and retail. The PhotonDelta ecosystem and its partners are encouraging industry engagement to help design, develop, and manufacture products based on integrated photonics. Companies involved in integrated photonics and agrifood and mentioned in the roadmap include Ommatidia LiDAR, Scantinel Photonics, MantiSpectra, Neuruno, Deloq, and Spectrik.
May 2023
remote sensing
Technique that utilizes electromagnetic energy to detect and quantify information about an object that is not in contact with the sensing apparatus.
An acronym of light detection and ranging, describing systems that use a light beam in place of conventional microwave beams for atmospheric monitoring, tracking and detection functions. Ladar, an acronym of laser detection and ranging, uses laser light for detection of speed, altitude, direction and range; it is often called laser radar.
BusinessagricultureSensors & Detectorsphotonic integrated circuitPICPICsPostharvest Unlimited ConferencePHUCWageningen UniversityPhotonDeltaOnePlanet Research CenterLex OosterveldMantiSpectraEindhoven University of TechnologyDelft University of TechnologySpectrikScantinel PhotonicsNeurunoEuropeclimatefoodproductionremote sensingSensor fusionlidarspectroscopyimagingphotoacousticlaser speckle imagingterahertzbiochips

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