Topcon releases laser-based sensor for measuring crop growth

March 11, 2013
Tokyo, Japan--Topcon has released a laser-based agricultural sensor -- called CropSpec -- that, when mounted on a tractor or other mobile fertilizer distributor, measures the growth of crops remotely.
CropSpec can depict nitrogen distribution across an agricultural field in the form of a map. (Image: Topcon)


Tokyo, Japan--Topcon has released a laser-based agricultural sensor -- called CropSpec -- that, when mounted on a tractor or other mobile fertilizer distributor, measures the growth of crops remotely.

In the standard two-sensor configuration, one sensor is mounted on each side of the tractor 2 to 4 m off the ground. When CropSpec is combined with a variable fertilizer distributor, it is possible to distribute fertilizer in accord with the growth state of crops.

CropSpec senses nitrogen levels in the crops; the wavebands of its lasers are 730-740 nm and 800-810 nm. Each sensing instrument is 200 x 80 x 80 mm in size, and runs on 10 to 32 volts DC power at 5 amps.

Conventionally, sensors for measuring crop growth compare the amount of sunlight with the amount of light reflected from the farm field. Because CropSpec does not use sunlight, measurement results are not affected by changes in the weather.

When the map data of the area to be fertilized is registered in the system, it can be used to determine efficient routes for agricultural work with audio guidance, and also shows completed areas.

A somewhat similar sensor package was developed by researchers at Containerless Research (Evanston, IL), the Chicago Botanic Garden, and the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) in 2005.

An interesting side note: Topcon also has an eye-care division that produces optical-coherence tomography (OCT) equipment.

Sources:

http://ag.topconpositioning.com/en/ag-products/x20-application-kits/cropspec

http://techon.nikkeibp.co.jp/english/NEWS_EN/20130309/270331/


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