A BREAKTHROUGH technology which will allow producers to analyse crop yield in the palm of their hand is soon to hit the market.
Newcastle start-up Rapid Phenotyping is putting the finishing touches on their first product – a hand-held device which can instantaneously analyse the chemical composition of plants and foods. Samples can be tested for a range of variables including protein, fibre, starch, fructose, vitamin and mineral content plus contaminants.
“We’re selling a chemistry lab in the palm of your hands. Instead of sending your samples away for testing and receiving the results days or weeks later, our products will return the information instantly,” said Rapid Phenotype’s co-founder Antony Martin.
He said farmers, winemakers and brewers could use the device to improve their soil health, plant breeding and production processes. Their trade-secret algorithms meant results could be delivered in real-time.
“A recent project we generated 60,000 lab tests in 2.5 weeks. Ordinarily that amount of testing would have taken our client at least 2.5 years and it was done at a fraction of the cost.”
Mr Martin launched the business last year along with fellow University of Newcastle PhD students Will Palmer and Jamie Flynn.
“We all had job offers as post-doctorate researchers but we decided we wanted to pursue something a bit more exciting so we started a company. First we built a new type of 3D microscope that images medical samples and that gave us the skills to build products to rapidly analyse solid and liquid samples to service the agricultural sector,” he said.
Rapid Phenotyping is optimistic it can take its product to the global market.
“Internationally there is massive opportunity for us. Our device plugs into the precision agriculture movement and that’s worldwide. We have an Asian customer and we see huge potential throughout Asia.”
A $15,000 grant from the NSW Government’s Boosting Business Innovation Program really helped them along. The program is part of the portfolio of Deputy Premier and Regional NSW Minister, John Barilaro.
The business has now employed its technology on projects co-research with the CSIRO, NSW Department of Primary Industries and international plant breeding institutes. The lads are also working with winemakers in the Hunter Valley where their technology is being used to test the composition of soil, grapes and even the wine during its fermentation process.
Now, they’re on the look out for broadacre farmers who are willing to partner with them to iron out the final bumps before launching their product later this year. To get in touch visit www.rapidphenotyping.com/contact