New Handheld Device Tests Seed Genetics, Weed ID

A new handheld device that allows farmers to test DNA from crops and weeds themselves will be on the market soon.

The new technology allows farmers to check for specific genetic traits in crops or weeds. That way, they’ll instantly know if their crops are drought or insect resistant or if weeds in their fields are herbicide resistant.

It’s the first time this type of technology will be available to farmers.

Farmers simply need to crush a leaf or seed from a plant or weed and put the leftover liquid into a cartridge. They’ll stick the cartridge into this new handheld device and results from the genetic testing will be uploaded to a digital cloud.

The device sends the farmer’s GPS location with the data from each sample that’s uploaded, so there’s no need to write down which field the DNA sample came from. The cloud will be able to store several years worth of data, so farmers will know how the seed rates compare to what they planted years previously.

“Once you start underlining the genetics, you don’t have to wait for the plant to grow to know what’s going to happen,” said co-creator of the device, Derek Lyons. “You don’t need to ship samples to a lab anymore.”

This new technology was developed by Lyons, a biochemist and an assistant professor at Simpson, and Simpson College physicist Aaron Santos. The two formed a company called DNP123, and own the patent to the technology that makes the device work.

They lent the patent to ExpresSeed, a company which is partially owned by Simpson College, to create and market the digital handheld device.

How it works

The disruptive technology doesn’t fall in line with any current methodologies for DNA testing.

Usually scientists study DNA by making more of it. They duplicate the DNA until it becomes visible and it takes large machines to make the process work.

Lyons and Santos found a new way to study DNA samples.

They turned silver nanoparticles into nanostructures that look like dice. Each side of the tiny dice has an address. The handheld device tells the silver dice which specific gene the farmer is looking for. If the gene is present, the address on the dice that correlates with the gene will connect to the strand of DNA.

This causes the dice to line up in a straight line. While a strand of DNA is too small to see, the nanoparticles – which are 1 million times smaller than a strand of human hair – are visible.

If the dice are scattered, the gene the farmer is looking for is not present in the crop or weed.

Why it’s good news for farmers

DNA testing is generally a slow and expensive process. Farmers send samples into labs at Pioneer or Monsanto and then their samples wait in line to get tested.

Once the data comes back, Lyons said, farmers usually can’t interpret it on their own,

This new device will process DNA in 10 minutes and will come back as readable information.

Not only will the farmer know information they need about their crops and weeds right away.

“Farmers haven’t had access to this kind of data before,” Lyons said. “Corn and seed companies such as Pioneer, the whole company is based on DNA information and making that available to everybody.”

Who else will benefit

This new technology could benefit third-world countries, said director of Simpson’s Emerge Foundation, Todd Kielkopf.

“There are countries in the world that can’t supply food becuse they can’t track genetics so they simply won’t sell their seeds,” Kielkopf said. “This is a tool to hopefully increase food supply in areas that are lacking the use of genetics information.”

It could also help European countries and the Chinese, who want to know more about what’s coming into their food supplies because the new device will prove whether GMO type traits are present.

The new technology could have also prevented the Syngenta lawsuit, in which the agribusiness giant agreed to settle tens of thousands of U.S. lawsuits filed by farmers over the company’s roll out of a seed variety before it was approved by China.

Lyons and Kielkopf said they’re unsure who their largest buyer will be. It may be farmers, or co-ops, or companies like Pioneer or Monsanto.

The two are also unsure when the product will be available for purchase, although they do have a working prototype.

Simpson’s involvement in the project

This project falls under the Emerge Foundation’s umbrella, which is a private nonprofit that extends academic program services to the college’s EMERGE business incubator.

EMERGE helps students gain real-world entrepreneurial experiences in start-up business and nonprofits.

Simpson students were directly involved in the creation of the new technology, and they will help market and sell the new product once it is manufactured.

Leave a Reply

Tools & Smart Equipment Stories
Grower Retaile iPad
Data ManagementRobust Crop Scouting Requires Advanced Data Collection
April 2, 2018
Disclaimer: I have never been a crop scout. My intolerance for insects insinuating themselves in places that are competing for Read More
DronesSentera Adds RTK Corrections to Fixed Wing Drone
March 22, 2018
Sentera announces the general release of its RTK GPS precision positioning module for the PHX Pro fixed-wing drone. The module Read More
Tools & Smart EquipmentMachine Learning: The Secret Sauce of Precision Agriculture for Fighting Crop Diseases
February 13, 2018
With the development of agricultural technologies, crop and plant diseases have been advancing as well, causing degradation of both quality Read More
Tools & Smart EquipmentAutonomous Tractors Could Work in Wetter Conditions than Traditional Tractors
February 8, 2018
March 20th is the first day of spring, making spring much closer than even I expected. On the farm I Read More
Trending Articles
Business ManagementInside the Key Strategies For Selling Precision Ag Services
April 13, 2018
In its earliest manifestation, the motive for developing precision agriculture service was entirely pure. Agronomists knew that crops were responding Read More
CROO Robotics’ automated strawberry harvester
Robotics/Labor SaversSpecialty Crops: Get in Gear Now for Agriculture’s Robotic Revolution
April 11, 2018
While the immigration debate rages on in Washington, DC, with little chance for reform in sight, the uncertain labor picture Read More
Business ManagementDelivering on Ag Data Value
April 3, 2018
Bruce Baier is another deeply experienced precision agriculture manager who survived the early years of ag technology while riding the Read More
Business Management25 Best Colleges for Precision Agriculture
March 21, 2018
Choosing the right college is a process. It’s one that I’m just now embarking on with my teenage daughter. Long Read More
Decision Support SoftwareOpinion: The Missing Link in Precision Agriculture
March 15, 2018
The agtech boom over the last two years is indeed astonishing. Farmers are becoming more open to new, emerging technologies Read More
Filling The Planter from Cab
Service ProvidersPrecision Agriculture: What is it?
March 15, 2018
If we look at the title of the article, all of you will come to an answer. These answers will Read More
Latest News
Industry NewsClimate Corp Announces 5 New FieldView Integrations
April 23, 2018
The Climate Corporation announced the addition of five industry-leading partners to The Climate Corporation’s Climate FieldView digital agriculture platform. The Read More
Industry NewsKansas Software Outfit Ag Developer Announces agX Integ…
April 23, 2018
Ag Developer, a Kansas based software development company, is simplifying grower/advisor communications by connecting to the agX Platform, according to Read More
Industry NewsAyrstone Introduces High-Speed WiFi System for Farms
April 20, 2018
WiFi has become a necessity, and a proliferation of new WiFi devices have come to market for urban homes and Read More
AsiaIndian IoT Platform for Pre and Post Harvest Raises See…
April 19, 2018
Indian startup AgNext has raised an undisclosed seed round led by India-focused Agtech VC Omnivore Partners along with Singaporean angel Read More
Industry NewsMaryland Farm Opens as Hub of Learning about Sustainabl…
April 19, 2018
Fourth-generation Maryland farmer Trey Hill measures the success of his operation not just by how many bushels of corn, soybeans, Read More
Industry NewsAgritech Startup Backers Announce New Corporate Partner…
April 18, 2018
Entering its fourth year, the THRIVE Venture & Innovation platform announced today the nine finalists and investment in its spring Read More
EventsFinding Our Way in the Business of Precision Agricultur…
April 17, 2018
Service providers are the essential link between precision agriculture products and practices and the farmers who are increasingly relying on Read More
Data ManagementThe Precipitation Problem in Agriculture
April 17, 2018
Precipitation is arguably the most important agricultural weather parameter, yet it is the most difficult variable to precisely measure. For Read More
Business Management7 Factors That Could Make or Break Digital Farming
April 13, 2018
Digital farming is the new technology genie – a genie that is now out of the bottle and cannot be Read More
Business ManagementInside the Key Strategies For Selling Precision Ag Serv…
April 13, 2018
In its earliest manifestation, the motive for developing precision agriculture service was entirely pure. Agronomists knew that crops were responding Read More
Data ManagementWhat Lessons Can the Ag Industry Learn from the Faceboo…
April 12, 2018
Today, a seemingly endless amount of ag data flows from growers’ fields into a host of technology platforms. It is Read More
DronesWhen High Value Crops Meet Inaccessible Areas: How Dron…
April 12, 2018
Avocados are one of the few crops in Chile that can economically be commercially cultivated on hills. On one hand Read More
Sensors/IoTWhy Virtual Sensors Could Save California’s At-Ri…
April 12, 2018
To say that the Golden State can lay claim to the title of king of almonds might be an understatement. Read More
AgJunction, InfoAg 2014, Autosteer, GPS
Industry NewsAgJunction Launches Online Store, Low Cost Guidance Sys…
April 12, 2018
AgJunction today announced the opening of the online store to bring low-cost, simple-to-use precision agriculture solutions direct to all Read More
Business ManagementAgGateway Encourages Use of Standard Identifiers with A…
April 11, 2018
AgGateway, the non-profit organization with the mission to promote and enable the industry’s transition to digital agriculture, is offering a Read More
Imagery/SensingRemote Soil Sensing Enhances Precision Farming, Promote…
April 11, 2018
Precision agriculture management requires understanding soil at increasingly finer scales. Conventional soil sampling and laboratory analyses often lack this granularity Read More
Data ManagementREPORT: Bayer’s Digital Farming Business Slated f…
April 11, 2018
Germany’s Bayer plans to sell its digital farming business to BASF as part of changes to concessions it has offered Read More
Industry NewsSentera Announces New FieldAgent Features
April 11, 2018
Sentera announces the availability of high-fidelity crop stand, weed pressure mapping, spot scouting maps, and free local image stitching within Read More