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SBIR Phase II:Low-cost in-planta nitrate sensor

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2155110
Agency Tracking Number: 2155110
Amount: $998,683.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: BT
Solicitation Number: NSF 21-565
Solicitation Year: 2021
Award Year: 2023
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2023-05-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2025-04-30
Small Business Information
1111 WOI Rd
Ames, IA 50010
United States
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Xinran Wang
 (515) 708-6518
Business Contact
 Xinran Wang
Phone: (515) 708-6518
Research Institution

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project is to provide farmers with a low-cost plant sensor for direct, instantaneous measurement of nitrate-nitrogen (N) levels in crop sap. Widespread adoption of the sensor could support cost-effective and improved N fertilizer management, which may increase farmers’ productivity and profitability. Low-cost, instantaneous nitrate testing readouts from plant stalks will provide more actionable information to guide farmers’ fertilization decisions than current methods to test N levels in soil (e.g., collect soil samples, ship them to lab, and then wait ~1 week for lab analysis). The improvements in fertilizer-management decisions, enabled by more accessible and more actionable data, have the potential to reduce total N fertilizer applications in the US by some 2 million tons annually. This large reduction in N fertilizer applications would decrease the energy footprint of agriculture, reduce emissions of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 300 times as potent as carbon dioxide, and improve water quality through reductions in N runoff, improving ecosystem services and human health through improved rural water quality and the reduction in hypoxic dead zones._x000D__x000D_
The proposed project represents an innovation in the function and application of an in planta nitrate sensor. The project goals are to: i) improve the sensor for reliable deployment in field measurements; ii) conduct research in farmers’ fields to develop predictive models that input nitrate levels from sensor measurements of corn stalks and other data to output N fertilization recommendations; and iii) build a lab-based multi-probe nitrate sensor that extends the work to other crops in the existing plant and soil testing market. Anticipated results are that the data from the sensors will be used to build predictive models that output optimum N fertilization recommendations that will outperform conventional models. The accomplishment of this goal will lead to the commercialization of rugged low-cost sensors that provide rapid measurements of plant sap nitrate. This ability will make it possible to provide farmers with low-cost fertilizer recommendations based on data-driven, predictive modeling of N demand._x000D_
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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