Office for Technology Commercialization

Portable Soil Nutrients Sampling Device Design

Technology #20160039

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Soil Nutrients Sampling DeviceSoil NutrientsSoil Nitrogen
Abdennour Abbas, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resources Sciences
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John Brockgreitens
Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resources Sciences
Managed By
Kevin Nickels
Technology Licensing Officer 612-625-7289
Patent Protection

Provisional Patent Application Filed

Soil Nutrients Detection

A novel design of a soil sampling probe allows rapid detection of nitrogen and other nutrient levels in soil without requiring soil collection or laboratory equipment. The device combines soil core collecting and soil water testing by first injecting water into the soil and then extracting and filtering a water sample for analysis. Electrochemical sensors in the device detect soluble soil ions such as nitrate, chloride, sulfate, calcium, sodium, ammonium, phosphate and potassium, to provide on-site and real-time measurements without reagents. The mobile probe, featuring either manual or automated operation, can sample soil from a depth of up to 60 cm.

MN-IP Try and Buy
  • Trial period is six months
  • Trial fee is $5000.00
  • Trial fee is wavied for MN companies or if sponsoring $50,000+ research with the University
  • No US patent expenses during trial period
  • $10,000 conversion fee (TRY to BUY)
  • Royalty rate of 1%
  • Royalty free for first $1M in sales

** View the Term Sheet **
** Contact Kevin Nickels for specific details. **

Real-time Soil Nitrate Testing

Current soil testing methods are time consuming and expensive. Furthermore, soil water samplers such as drive point piezometers are static and not designed for repeated sampling over large areas. This unique device offers rapid sampling of soil nutrients, effectively automating nitrate sensing and providing real-time data. In addition, the tool can be either hand-held or mounted on a vehicle for large area monitoring. The portable device is easily used in the field, thereby eliminating soil collection, laboratory equipment and long waits for results, providing farmers and agricultural engineers accurate nitrate-nitrogen information on which to determine the rate and timing of fertilizer input.


  • Real-time results reduce dependence on expensive and slower laboratory testing
  • Precisely adds and extracts water
  • Automated or manual operation
  • Samples soil depths up to 60 cm
  • Can be mounted on tractors or moving vehicles for large area monitoring
  • Lightweight, portable, and requires no reagents


  • Determining amount of nitrate fertilizer on a field at a given time during a growing season
  • Precision agriculture and pollution control; helps mitigate environmental impact and maximize utility of fertilizer applications
  • Rapid and automatized analysis of soil in large agricultural fields.

Phase of Development - Proof of concept. Device made and preliminary testing completed.