Chemical composition of crop organs (eg. grain, stem, fruit or leaves used as agricultural products) is a very important determinant of produce quality. In fact, not only produce quality, but in many cases yield is determined by a particular component such as oil in seeds, sucrose in sugarcane stalks, cellulose composition of forestry materials, pharmaceutical molecules in leaves etc. making routine, simple and cheap methods for measuring these components instrumentally important for the agriculture industry. Due to the current cost and inefficiencies of measuring these chemical components, most breeding, farming and consumer choice is driven by simple morphology such as tonne per hectare yield measures.
We consult with researchers in the planning stages of large-scale experiments that require high-throughput chemical phenotyping. Experimental design is discussed to ensure harvesting strategies are in-line with high-throughput chemical phenotyping and ensure integration of our services into the specialised needs of the research project. We can supply a permanent hardware setup for long-term programs, or samples can be sent to us for analysis.
Rapid compositional monitoring of agricultural products can be applied to any plant based product including grains harvested for food, feed or oil, an array of fruits including grapes, tomatoes and citrus, biomass crops such as forage sorghums and lucerne hay, root vegetables such as sugarbeet and potato, and purified plant products including pharmaceuticals and sugarcane sucrose. Online compositional monitoring services can be applied to track:
- Early prediction of optimal harvest times
- Irrigation, fertiliser and herbicide regimes
- Crop response to environmental conditions
- Field-to-field performance
- Monitor historical performance of crops
- Assessment of final product quality & composition for product classification & pricing
Extensive implementation of these strategies with farmers will provide an invaluable data resource which can be used to assess large scale agricultural productivity, assess effective and ineffective farming strategies, and leave a legacy of experience (in the form of data) that can be passed on through generations and to new owners/farm managers so that knowledge of farming lands is not lost as experienced farmers move on.
We consult with seed companies to develop innovative breeding strategies for improving crop quality and yields through massively high-throughput chemical phenotyping, including quality class assessment (i.e. grain quality and composition). Integration of these strategies into existing marker assisted/genomic selection breeding and traditional approaches is our focus.
Permanent hardware can be setup at field stations or samples can be sent to our laboratories for analysis. In consultation with breeders, we work to establish standardised breeding strategies that integrate low-cost, high-throughput chemical and quality information.
- Breeding programs for improving grain quality, forage quality, fruit quality, protein yields, oil yields, pharmaceutical yields etc.
- Assessing lines in different environmental conditions, soils, seasons etc. to provide specialised lines for certain regions and recommendations for farmers
- Identifying phenotype expression in GMOs and tracking phenotype persistence through generations