Portable Nutrient Sensor for Soil and Plants

Jennifer Marston wrote . . . . . . . . .

There are plenty of reasons food producers are considering indoor agriculture these days, including the potential for better crops and yields thanks to tech integrations and the ability to keep farm workers safer (ie, not laboring in the thick of wildfire smoke). However, to make indoor farming as efficient as possible, and thereby cut down on food waste, more precision around plant nutrients, water, and other elements is needed.

Denmark-based startup Nordetect is one such company tackling this challenge. The precision-agriculture-focused company just nabbed the top spot (and €10,000) of agtech company Priva’s recent Horti Heroes challenge, which showcased companies innovating in the horticulture space.

Nordetect, which is also a part of the SOSV portfolio, won the challenge for its portable device that measures nutrients in soil, water, and plant tissue so growers can more precisely use fertilizer in crops and get better yields and less waste.

On its website, Nordetect says this nanosensor can be used on anything from leaf samples to soil to manure. The system also integrates with any existing software the farm might be using, and a built in GPS keeps track of where each sample is located in the field or farm. A major differentiator Nordetect offers is its ability to measure nutrients within minutes, as opposed to the traditional process that can take weeks.

Speaking in today’s press release, Nordetect CEO Keenan Pinto said the company’s target market was high-value crop space — that is, areas that grow crops like leafy greens, tomatoes, and cucumbers. “These are crops that have a nutrient requirement change between their vegetative and generative phases… and if you can get the fertilization correct, you can also achieve a significantly higher flower rate and yield,“ he said.

Many indoor farms, whether tech-enabled greenhouses or vertical farms, now grow those crops. At the same time, the number of these indoor farming facilities keeps rising and their locations include everywhere from isolated warehouses to grocery store parking lots to food desserts.

Priva is something of a heavyweight in the world of indoor farming, which means its awarding of the prize to Nordetect and subsequent partnership with the company will lead to further technological innovation around precision agriculture inside the above farming locations.

Source: The Spoon

Scotch Eggs


8 new-laid eggs (hard-boiled)
1 lb pork sausage meat
1 tablespoon chopped mixed herbs
salt and pepper
seasoned plain flour
1 egg (beaten)
dried white breadcrumbs


  1. Mix the sausage meat with the herbs and seasoning.
  2. Have the eggs ready peeled and dried.
  3. Divide the sausage meat into equal portions. Pat these out into rounds on a dampened board. Place an egg on each one and fold the sausage meat up around the egg to envelop it completely.
  4. Roll eggs in seasoned flour, brush with beaten egg and coat well with the crumbs.
  5. Dip-fry the Scotch eggs in oil until a russet-brown.
  6. Cool them before cutting in half to serve.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Source: Cooking with Eggs

In Pictures: Egg Dishes Around the World

Stracciatella, Italy

Machaca con huevos, Mexico

Matzo brei, Eastern Europe and US

Hangtown Fry, California

Kai jeow moo sab, Thailand

Matambre, Argentina

Compared to Placebo, Vitamin D Has No Benefit for Asthma

Contrary to earlier results, vitamin D supplements do not prevent severe asthma attacks in at-risk children, according to the first placebo-controlled clinical trial to test this relationship.

These results were published today in JAMA.

Juan Celedon release “The reason that’s important is there are colleagues around this country and worldwide who are testing vitamin D levels for kids with asthma and giving them vitamin D,” said study lead author Juan C. Celedón, M.D., Dr.P.H., chief of pediatric pulmonary medicine at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. “As a system, it costs a lot of money to run all these tests and give the supplements. We’ve shown no benefit for children with moderately low vitamin D levels.”

For three years, the Vitamin-D-Kids Asthma (VDKA) Study followed nearly 200 children ages 6 to 16 across seven different U.S. hospital systems. All had at least one asthma attack during the year before the study began.

Half of the participants were randomized to receive 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day, and the other half got placebo pills. No one involved in the study knew which type of pill each participant was getting.

All of the children had vitamin D levels low enough that supplements should have an effect — if vitamin D truly is beneficial for reducing severe asthma attacks — but the study excluded children with severe vitamin D deficiency because it would be unethical to withhold it in those cases.

Compared to placebo, vitamin D did not reduce the number of asthma attacks participants experienced or their reliance on inhaled steroids.

That’s different from what was seen in the past with observational studies in Costa Rica, the U.S. and Canada, and Puerto Rico, where children with naturally low vitamin D levels seemed to have worse asthma.

“With observational studies, you never know — is vitamin D causing asthma to be worse or do kids with worse asthma end up having lower vitamin D?” said Celedón, who also holds the Niels K. Jerne chair of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Even with the rigor of the present study’s design, Celedón acknowledges that he can’t draw conclusions about whether very low vitamin D levels contribute to asthma attacks, but he argues that those children would be supplemented either way because of known effects on bone health.

Source: UPMC

Metabolic Syndrome Linked to Worse Outcomes for COVID-19 Patients

Keith Brannon wrote . . . . . . . . .

Patients hospitalized with COVID-19 who had a combination of high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes were over three times more likely to die from the disease, according to a new Tulane University study.

The study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, is the first to look at the impact of metabolic syndrome on outcomes for COVID-19 patients. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of at least three of five conditions — hypertension, high blood sugar, obesity, high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol — that increases risk for cardiovascular disease.

“Together, obesity, diabetes and pre-diabetes, high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels are all predictive of higher incidents of death in these patients. The more of these diagnoses that you have, the worse the outcomes,” said lead author Dr. Joshua Denson, assistant professor of medicine and pulmonary and critical care medicine physician at Tulane University School of Medicine. “The underlying inflammation that is seen with metabolic syndrome may be the driver that is leading to these more severe cases.”

Researchers followed outcomes for 287 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 at Tulane Medical Center and University Medical Center New Orleans from March 30 to April 5, which was at the peak of the pandemic in New Orleans. More than 85 percent of patients in the study identified as non-Hispanic Black. The mean age was 61 years old and almost 57 percent were women.

The most common conditions were hypertension (80%), obesity (65%), diabetes (54%), and low HDL (39%).

Researchers looked at two groups — those diagnosed with metabolic syndrome and those who weren’t. They tracked outcomes including if patients were admitted to an intensive care unit, placed on a ventilator, developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) or died from the disease.

Almost 66% of the patients in the study had metabolic syndrome. When these cases were compared with patients without the condition, 56% vs 24% required the ICU, 48% vs 18% required a ventilator, 37% vs 11% developed ARDS, and 26% vs 10% died.

Importantly, after accounting for age, sex, race, hospital location, and other conditions, the patients with metabolic syndrome were 3.4 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who didn’t have the condition. These patients were also nearly five times more likely to be admitted to an ICU, need a ventilator, or develop ARDS.

The study didn’t find an increase in mortality for patients when only one of the conditions clustered with metabolic syndrome were examined alone. However, being obese or having diabetes was associated with increased odds of ICU admission and being put on a ventilator.

“Metabolic syndrome should be considered a composite predictor of COVID-19 lethal outcome, increasing the odds of mortality by the combined effects of its individual components,” Denson said.

He would advise anyone who meets the criteria for metabolic syndrome to be vigilant in taking measures to reduce risk or exposure to the coronavirus.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old — we took that into account,” he said. “You really should be extra careful. I would say it should impact both preventing your exposures and, if you end up getting sick, you should probably see your doctor sooner.”

Source: Tulane University

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