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NeoSpectra near-IR analysis monitors nutrients in animal feed

22 Feb 2023

Developers Si-Ware strike deal to supply platform for on-site analysis at North American dairy farms.

Si-Ware Systems has announced a deal with agriculture feed specialist Cargill Animal Nutrition that will see Si-Ware's near-IR analysis platform used in North American dairy farms.

The agreement covers use of Si-Ware's NeoSpectra platform by Cargill's North American dairy teams for the on-site analysis of forages, feeds, and feed ingredients, as part of Cargill's provision of research capabilities, feed products and services to the farming sector.

"We are very excited to partner with NeoSpectra to bring this innovative nutrient analysis platform to the dairy industry," said Kristen Burkhardt from Cargill. "We are committed to providing our customers with the best quality feed to reach their goals, and this partnership will help us to continue to deliver on that promise with real-time, accurate insights."

The Cargill deal for dairy farms is a continuation of Si-Ware's licensing program for the NeoSpectra near-IR platform, which has seen parallel agreements made with global feed-additive specialists AB Vista and Brazilian animal feed laboratory Labnutris in the past twelve months.

The roots of the NeoSpectra platform go back to Si-Ware's research into MEMS-based solutions for industrial and consumer applications, after the company's founding in 2004. In 2014 the company won a Prism Award at SPIE Photonics West in the Test, Measurement, Metrology category for its then-unnamed MEMS FTIR device, said at the time to be the world's first single-chip FTIR spectrometer.

The product was based on the company's silicon integrated micro-optical system technology (SiMOST), a proprietary approach allowing the device's optical components and its Michelson interferometer to be permanently aligned lithographically on-chip, assisting integration into qualitative and quantitative material analysis platforms.

Near-IR for use in the field

Si-Ware announced the ramping of production for its FTIR module in March 2016, at which point the fabless company and its foundry partner were targeting OEM customers looking to develop mobile spectrometer devices for instant analysis, using the platform's 1,100 to 2,500 nanometer spectral range for material characterization purposes.

"Over the last few decades, we have witnessed how high-volume semiconductor technologies including MEMS have played a disruptive role in many industries," commented Si-Ware co-founder and CTO Bassam Saadany at the time. "We believe that NeoSpectra ignites this disruption in the spectroscopy arena."

In 2019 the company expanded its product range to include a smaller model, NeoSpectra-Micro, based around a similar MEMS FTIR sensor, along with bespoke software and calibration tools.

Cargill will use the NeoSpectra platform to analyze the nutrient content of feed and feed ingredients quickly and accurately, helping dairy farmers to monitor what the cattle consume and ensuring consistency of nutrition. A recent Italian study comparing the use of near-IR systems with other methods found that the faster testing of feed allowed by hand-held optical devices could result in both lower feed costs and higher milk production.

"Our solutions will help Cargill ensure the nutritional value of their feed products, providing their customers with the information they need to make accurate and informed choices on the spot," said Si-Ware's Mostafa Medhat.

Iridian Spectral TechnologiesLASEROPTIK GmbHECOPTIKTRIOPTICS GmbHUniverse Kogaku America Inc.Optikos Corporation Alluxa
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