Innovation Snapshot
Innovator:Dr. Amina Hussein, University of Alberta
Location:Edmonton, Alberta

Soil Samples On The Go

Soil testing has become an integral tool for many farmers, who rely on measurements of moisture, carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus and particle composition to make informed decisions and increase productivity of their farm. However, detailed soil analysis typically takes place in labs, which is costly and time consuming.

Dr. Amina Hussein and her team at the University of Alberta are developing a portable Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) device for in-situ analysis of agricultural soil. LIBS is a minimally invasive detection technique, capable of rapid elemental composition analysis with sub parts-per-million sensitivity. Compared to conventional soil sampling techniques, LIBS requires little sample preparation and provides high-speed, waste-free analysis.

Ultimately, their portable LIBS-based soil sensor will enable farmers to quickly obtain data about their soil without the time and expense of lab-based analysis.

The long-term goal of this project is to develop an autonomous LIBS-based soil sensor as an alternative to conventional techniques requiring frequent sampling and laboratory analysis. The team is also working to create an open-source database and calibration suite and plans to use artificial intelligence to provide quick, reliable soil analysis in the field.

This project is part of Alberta Innovates’ Smart Agriculture and Food Digitization and Automation Challenge.

Partners: University of Alberta, University of Regina, CropPro Consulting, Enersoft and Boreal Laser