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Portable Nutrient Meter Reads Produce Quality
Four years ago, the Bionutrient Food Association (BFA) introduced its first version of the Bionutrient Meter, an instrument designed to bring what could only be accomplished in a laboratory directly to the grocery store or market stand. Its goal is to provide consumers with the ability to point a handheld spectrometer directly at produce and receive a reading of which fruit or vegetables contain the highest amount of nutrients.
  Spectroscopy is a safe technology as it uses non-invasive flashes of light to determine the makeup of materials. Farther down the road, the BFA hopes this technology could be integrated into a cellphone lens as a standalone meter.
  “Unlike refractometers that read Brix content by sampling and damaging fruit, the nutrient density meter will provide its result by simply touching the produce,” says Steve Groff, author of “The Future Proof Farm.” “It will determine nutrient and vitamin levels giving a readout not of parts per million (PPM) but a level under or over the average.”
  Groff says roughly 300 BFA members around the country are currently using version two of the meter to help build an online results database for comparisons.
  “We’re at about 10,000 data points now, but that’s not enough to build an accurate data library. We’re trying to be consistent with gathering data, plus, right now we’re sending in soil tests from around the very plants we’re taking our readings from.”
  He says an exciting result of their research is that while there are many outside influences, they’re finding higher nutrient-level produce is coming from healthier soils.
  “There’s a correlation between healthier soil and more nutrient-rich,” Groff says. “We’ve primarily been practicing no-till, not disturbing the soil, and using cover crops for environmental reasons. That’s good, but now these exact things are proving to be a prerequisite for healthier crops such as tomatoes, corn, squash or soybeans fed to animals.”
  Groff believes when consumers use the meter, a side benefit will identify which suppliers are growing the most nutrient-dense produce. The present system pays producers by yield rather than quality, but there hasn’t been a way to accurately measure quality other than sending produce to a lab and waiting for results.
  The BFA hopes by giving consumers this technology it will help them make purchasing decisions that could affect overall food quality.
  The Bionutrient Meter is still potentially years away according to Groff, but it will be refined with more data points and undergo a succession of soft launches until a final product is produced.
  “It will be a game changer,” Groff says. “I believe agriculture’s future is going to be based on increased nutrient density or richness in the products we grow. If we have biology in living soil, we’ll have a healthier, more robust product. The Bionutrient Meter is part of that equation.”
  The Bionutrient Food Association hopes to manufacture and eventually sell the handheld meters for approximately $100 each.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Steve Groff, Cedar Meadow Farm, 535 Drytown Road, Holtwood, Penn. 17532 (ph 717-575-6778; steve@covercropcoaching.com; www.stevegroff.com).

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2022 - Volume #46, Issue #6