Plant breeding is conducted world-wide to create new plant varieties with improved nutritional value, economic opportunity, and environmental adaptation.
Plant breeders and other researchers employ many different scientific methods in their traditional or molecular-based programs, ranging from direct measurement of grain or seed production to more complex marker-assisted techniques. Near Infrared (NIR) spectroscopy provides the agricultural researcher with a non-destructive tool for plant, seed, and other agricultural product analysis. Once calibration models have been developed a single sample can be measured in less than one minute. NIR is ideal for plant breeding applications since most breeding programs have thousands of nursery entries that require analysis in very compressed timeframe. NIR can also be used at plant breeding facilities by less experienced operators than would be possible with traditional analytic methods. When applied to plant breeding and agricultural research, NIR analysis significantly reduces the time and financial resources required to produce a new variety, sometimes eliminating years from the development cycle. NIR spectroscopy is rapid and cost-effective for plant and seed analysis compared to conventional wet chemistry and HPLC methods.
In the past several years there has been a considerable increase in the use of NIR spectroscopy for rapid determination of constituent concentrations and quality parameters in agricultural products. Common applications for NIR include analysis of seed/grain composition and feed and food composition.
The ability to accurately perform spectral reflectance measurements on plants and plant canopies in the field can also be critical for some plant breeding programs. The ASD FieldSpec® line of spectroradiometers provides a wide range of configuration options for both contact measurements, such as leaves, and stand-off measurements, such as those needed to measure canopy reflectance. ASD systems use a flexible fiber optic cable that can be used with a variety of accessories, enabling many options for acquiring critical data. ASD can provide researchers the ability to work in some of the most remote regions of the planet due to the excellent instrument portability and survivability.
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