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In-field soil tester offers rapid soil available NPK results

An in-field soil analyser is set to be launched next year, enabling farmers to measure the amount of soil available nitrate, ammonium, potassium and phosphate.

Photo credit: Pessl-Instruments

Photo credit: Pessl-Instruments

Developed by Austrian company Pessl Instruments, the Metos NPK analyser is effectively a mobile soil lab for on farm use, explains the company’s chief executive officer Gottfried Pessl. Farmers sample their soil and prepare it. Then using a syringe, they apply a few microlitres of filtered solution and apply it to a capillary to which a high electric voltage is applied.

The different ions then separate out on the chip and it calculates the amount of the nutrient in the soil sample within 5 minutes, Pessl explains.

Photo credit: Pessl-Instruments

Photo credit: Pessl-Instruments

The machine will be launched in January 2018, initially for nitrogen and then P and K will be added by the end of that year. What makes it valuable is it enables farmers to test soils in season, so they can measure soil supply after applying fertiliser, he says. Each unit will cost $4,600 and a chip will run 500 samples.