Ohio Soybean Council celebrates 12th R&D 100 Award

October 16, 2020 Ohio Soybean Council

The Ohio Soybean Council (OSC) received its 12th R&D 100 Award at the 58th annual R&D 100 Awards held on October 1. The R&D 100 Awards honor the 100 most innovative technologies of the past year. The award was given in the Software/Services category for the Handheld Sensor for Screening Crop Quality that was funded with Ohio soybean farmers’ checkoff dollars in cooperation with The Ohio State University. This is the seventh R&D 100 Award OSC has received in the last seven years.

This mobile device allows individual farmers to analyze their own products and evaluate their quality — in the field, in seconds, and inexpensively. The technology uses near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy to provide a profile of constituents. From the user’s perspective, the process is simple. The farmer collects the sample and places it in the sample holder. The NIR spectrometer collects data from the sample. The sensor processes the data and applies algorithms to quantify the components. Results are presented in an easy-to-read graphic or table format.

The sensor has tested a wide range of sample types—barley, corn, hemp, oats, potatoes, soybeans, meat, fish, pea protein, and milk protein—and provides unprecedented accuracy for each measured component.

“We are incredibly proud that the technology being developed with our Ohio soybean checkoff dollars is being recognized alongside work from institutions like MIT and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security,” said Todd Hesterman, OSC Research Committee chair and soybean farmer from Henry County. “Not only is this device one of the most technologically significant products from the last year, it also has a direct benefit to farmers in the field.”

The entire system, at roughly 3″ x 6″, is readily portable. It is easy to use and can be operated with an app on a smartphone or tablet. The device is also cost-efficient; farmers can make a reasonable one-time purchase (as opposed to paying costly and recurrent lab fees), and the sensor consumes very little power.

“We are both proud and honored that the R&D 100 Award Committee has recognized this technology and its advantages,” said Barry McGraw, OSC’s Director of Product Development & Commercialization. “This invention meets a long-standing need. It allows farmers to evaluate their own products’ quality—and do it on the spot. Now farmers can make informed and timely decisions to improve the quality of the harvest.

“And the benefits go beyond the farm,” McGraw added. “The sensor can be used at the point of sale so buyers know exactly what is on offer. Thanks to this tool, we could move toward a market system that rewards farmers who cultivate better produce.”

For more information about this handheld sensor, OSC’s role in its development, or licensing, please contact Barry McGraw at bmcgraw@soyohio.org.