CYBERTONGUE® technology for on-farm use - Dr. Stephen Trowell, CSIRO
It doesn’t matter where you sit in the dairy value chain, you need to make precise measurements of milk composition. For example, as a dairy farmer you need to manage the fertility of your herd, get early warnings of any health problems that might be looming and keep tabs on your productivity and efficiency. As a processor, you need to measure regulated substances, such as antibiotics and assess the quality and suitability of each tanker load for its intended use, as well as having confidence in the specifications of your final product. And wherever you sit in the value chain, you want your measurements to be reliable, easy to make and fast. Milk is a familiar foodstuff but from an analyst’s point of view it is a complex and difficult “matrix”. Which is why most milk measurements are still made in a central laboratory rather than on-the-spot in the dairy or factory.
At CSIRO we have been working on the CYBERTONGUE® Technology, a new sensing platform to arm milk processors and dairy farmers with the information they need to make decisions in real time. The technology is based on tiny protein machines (biosensors), too small to be seen, that accurately measure specific components of milk and communicate by changing the colour of the light they emit. And there is a reading machine, about the size of a six-pack “Esky”, that converts the light signal to meaningful numbers. One of the great strengths of our technology is that it is customisable. In the future it could measure any food component or contaminant of interest. Right now, our technology measures low levels of lactose and certain enzymes in milk, which are mostly of interest to processors. We are now turning our attention to what components of milk we should measure to help dairy farmers. If we can find out what measurements would make most difference to dairy farm profitability, we can develop the sensors to make those measurements.
CSIRO is planning to commercialise the CYBERTONGUE® technology within 18 months and I will be deeply involved in that process. I would love to hear how you think the technology should be targeted. You can contact me via LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephen-trowell-20529119/