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AgriSenze nitrate biosensor ends toxic overfertilisation

Published 4 Oct 2023 (updated 6 May 2024) · 2 min read

Bottom view of the AgriSenze biosensor

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At a glance

  • Nitrate biosensor for soil
  • Precise measurement of nitrates in agricultural soil
  • Prevents overfertilisation and water pollution

AgriSenze has developed the world’s first biosensor that measures nitrates in soil, improving soil health and reducing environmental pollution. “Biosensors in agriculture are changing the game. We collect raw data and turn it into actionable decision support,” says Even Zimmer, CEO of AgriSenze.

Soil health is a balancing act. While nitrogen is a crucial nutrient for plants and crops, high concentrations of nitrates from overfertilisation can harm people and the planet. In the worst case, the result is water pollution and eutrophication, or excess growth of weeds and algae that suffocates life under water.

“We believe the solution lies in measuring nitrates in the soil. If you can measure it, you can control it,” says Zimmer.

Nitrate biosensor advances precision agriculture

A spinoff company from the Norwegian company Zimmer & Peacock (ZP), AgriSenze delivers a biosensor for measuring nitrates in agricultural soil.

“Biosensors give us the ability to test what was previously not testable,” says Zimmer, who is also the CEO of ZP. For the first time ever, farmers will have a precise means of controlling their fertiliser use.

“Traditionally, farmers have looked at weather data to estimate how much fertiliser is needed. But guesswork has no place in modern agriculture,” says Zimmer. “Our biosensor brings precision and reliability to growers’ decision-making.”

By definition, biosensors are analytical devices that convert a biological response into an electrical signal. The technology combines aspects of biology, chemistry and engineering, and enables the digitalisation of natural processes.

While ZP delivers a range of biosensors, nitrate measurement is among the company’s most pioneering breakthroughs. Having identified “soil health” as a key impact area, ZP established AgriSenze to focus on environmental protection and precision agriculture.

AgriSenze biosensor halves fertiliser costs

With reliable data on nitrates, farmers will know the optimal amount of fertiliser to apply at any point in time, which normally means less fertiliser overall. This is a huge financial savings for farmers who have seen fertiliser prices rise 300 per cent since early 2022.

“Farmers could save 30 to 50 per cent on fertiliser costs with our nitrate biosensor,” he continues.

In addition, the biosensor will reduce agriculture’s environmental footprint, resulting in cleaner water for fisheries, tourism and public consumption. Society will also save on the cost of nitrogen clean-up, which is estimated at EUR 70 to EUR 320 billion per year in Europe.

Riding the wave of an expanding biosensor market

The global biosensors market was valued at USD 26.8 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach USD 49.8 billion by 2030.

“The market for nitrate biosensors alone is massive, driven by the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase efficiency in farming and decrease the environmental impact of agriculture,” says Zimmer.

To date, ZP has developed 35 biosensors for a variety of applications, and it continues to work with R&D groups and industry to increase this number. “Wearable biosensors” is another key impact area.

“Soil health and health-related wearables are two impact areas that give a glimpse into the vast landscape of biosensor possibilities,” he concludes.

Even Zimmer


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