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  • Writer's pictureAlexa Campbell

Boost Your Plant Analysis: Lab vs. Picketa LENS – Unveiling the Key Differences

Precision and timeliness have become the keystones of success in the world of agriculture. The importance of conducting thorough plant analysis cannot be overstated. It is the vital compass guiding growers, agronomists, and researchers toward optimal yields, healthier crops, and sustainable practices. Understanding the intricate balance of essential nutrients, identifying potential stressors, and diagnosing underlying issues are all indispensable aspects of successful crop management.


The conventional approach to monitoring plant nutrition is sending samples to a laboratory. As technology advances, however, so do the means to harness real-time insights. Picketa’s Leaf Evaluated Nutrient System (LENS) is a game-changer in this regard, offering a dynamic, on-site alternative that is on its way to revolutionize the way we conduct plant analysis.

So, what exactly differentiates LENS plant analysis from laboratory plant analysis? In this blog, we’ll compare the two methods and present key differences that will make you rethink your approach to plant analysis forever.


How it works


First, we need to explain the difference in how each method collects samples for analysis. In traditional laboratories, a plant tissue sample is dried and ground to a fine powder, dissolved in a solution, then sent through various laboratory tests involving expensive equipment to measure its chemical properties. The end result is a report of the concentrations of specific nutrients in the plant tissue sample. The tedious and complex sample preparation is susceptible to mishandling and makes laboratory analysis a slower option for capturing your plants’ nutrient levels.


Picketa Systems’ LENS uses the reflectance of plant tissue over a wide spectral range as input to machine learning algorithms that predict the plant tissue’s chemical properties. This process is called Chemometrics. The complexity of the LENS is hidden behind a user-friendly application. Plant Analysis with the LENS can be done in-field and is simple enough that it can be performed by anyone.


The following photo illustrates the LENS analysis process. To analyze a sample, you simply scan 10 or more leaves with the probe and click a button to submit the sample. Let’s now look at the biggest distinctions between the Picketa LENS and the lab regarding time, cost, and accessibility.


Women scanning leaves to analyze the plant nutrient content with the Picketa LENS

Time


In agriculture, every moment counts. Time is the heartbeat of agriculture, and efficiency can make or break a harvest. One of the most glaring advantages of the LENS is the time it can save you. Unlike the traditional route of sending samples to a lab, a process that can take days or even up to a week for results, Picketa LENS operates in real-time giving you immediate insights. When sending samples to the lab, decomposition of a plant sample can occur before it even reaches the lab, which can give inaccurately high or low readings. To mitigate this issue, some growers attempt to align their sampling days with the laboratory's schedule or avoid sending samples just before weekends, which leaves them with limited flexibility for collecting their samples. Moreover, many plant analysis labs are located in large city centers, potentially requiring samples to travel considerable distances to reach the lab. This increases the risk of sample deterioration. The Picketa LENS eliminates these time constraint issues by offering real-time plant analysis right at your fingertips at any place and at any time.


Not only does the LENS eliminate the need to wait for your nutrient results, but it also reduces the time spent gathering and preparing samples for analysis. For example, when sending potato plant samples to the lab, the meticulous process of collecting 30 to 60 petioles and stripping leaflets off compound leaves can be time-consuming, taking up to 15 minutes. In contrast, the LENS simplifies the process, requiring just 10 or more leaflets to be directly plucked from the compound leaves, taking only about 2 minutes. Beyond speed, it's the streamlined sample preparation that sets the LENS apart. Rather than the labor-intensive labeling, packaging, and courier arrangements needed for lab-bound samples, the LENS system lets you label the sample bag and seamlessly transmit data via the app, ensuring a faster and less intrusive approach to plant analysis.


The time saved through these efficient processes allows you to concentrate on the paramount concern—your plants’ nutrition. Plant analysis aims to provide a comprehensive view of nutrient levels within the plant when the sample is collected. By obtaining instant results, you gain the ability to identify issues at an earlier stage and act swiftly for timely intervention, ensuring your plants thrive and flourish.


Cost


Using the Picketa LENS for real-time plant analysis isn't just a time-saving move; it's a smart financial decision. Traditional lab analysis can rack up costs ranging from $25 to $50 per sample, which can quickly add up, especially for large-scale operations. In contrast, Picketa offers flexible subscription packages, including an unlimited samples option, tailored to suit your specific needs. Most Picketa users experience significant cost savings after analyzing around 300 samples with the LENS compared to the expenses incurred by sending samples to a conventional lab. Beyond upfront savings, the long-term benefits become even more pronounced. Real-time plant analysis eliminates shipping costs, extra lab fees, and the costly wait times associated with traditional methods, making it the financially prudent choice for ongoing monitoring and analysis. With Picketa, you not only enhance efficiency but also safeguard your budget for sustainable plant analysis.


Results


Finally, the last significant differentiator of the Picketa LENS is the accessibility and feasibility of accessing the analysis results. Lab results are often delivered in PDF format through email or mail, whereas with Picketa LENS, all your plant analysis results are neatly organized and accessible in one intuitive digital space. The platform allows you to effortlessly track trends throughout the season, compare samples, and quickly refer to past analyses. The visual simplicity of the reports enhances users’ ability to interpret their results, making it a breeze to comprehend and derive valuable insights. Additionally, managing multiple fields and farms becomes a seamless task as all your crucial plant analysis data is centralized, ensuring optimal decision-making and efficiency in your agricultural endeavors.


Man using the Picketa LENS to analyze the plant nutrient content of potato leaves

In conclusion, the choice between traditional laboratory-based plant analysis and the innovative Picketa LENS is not just a matter of preference; it's a game-changing decision that impacts your agriculture journey profoundly. Precision and timeliness are the pillars of success in this field, and the LENS delivers on both fronts. By offering real-time, on-site analysis that saves you time and money, it reshapes how you approach plant analysis. To learn more about the Picketa LENS and how it can help improve your operations, check out our website or contact us at info@picketa.com. You may also want to sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of this page to get the latest company and industry news.








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