Registration Open for Delta AgTech Symposium

Delta_AgTech_color_croppedUnmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have become one of the hottest topics in agriculture today. With predictions that up to 80 percent of future commercial usage of UAVs will be in the agriculture sector, farmers, researchers and industry professionals alike are curious about the technologies and applications on the horizon.

Registration is now open for the Delta AgTech Symposium — a two-day conference set for July 7-8 at Agricenter International in Memphis — that will bring together farmers and the businesses who serve them, along with UAV manufacturers and dealers, to collectively explore how this technology can be integrated into farming practices. The conference is hosted by Entira, an agricultural marketing and management firm with support from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).

Sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities are also available for this unique conference. Visit the website or contact Kelli Polatty at Attendees and exhibitors who register online before May 15 are eligible for a 5 percent discount.

“We’re excited about the interest in the conference across all sectors of agriculture,” said Mike Karst, senior partner at Entira. “The lineup of speakers and demonstrations will give attendees a valuable preview into the technologies that may be available to them in coming years.”

Several industry leading speakers have been confirmed, with more to be announced in coming weeks. Confirmed speakers include:
– Kyle Snyder, Director of the NextGen Air Transportation Center, Institute of Transportation Research and Education at North Carolina State University
– Gretchen West, Executive Vice President of Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI)
– T.J. Agresti, CEO of RoboFlight Systems

Midwest Region of US Boasts Photosynthetic Activity

nasalogoData from satellite sensors show that during the Northern Hemisphere’s growing season, the Midwest region of the United States boasts more photosynthetic activity than any other spot on Earth, according to NASA and university scientists.

Recent research from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., demonstrated that fluorescence from plants could be teased out of data from existing satellites, and a new study used the data for the first time to estimate photosynthesis from agriculture. Results were published March 25 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

According to co-author Christian Frankenberg of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., “The paper shows that fluorescence is a much better proxy for agricultural productivity than anything we’ve had before. This can go a long way regarding monitoring – and maybe even predicting – regional crop yields.”

Most of the year the study found that the tropics are most productive. But during the Northern Hemisphere’s growing season, the U.S. Corn Belt “really stands out,” Frankenberg said. “Areas all over the world are not as productive as this area.”

Data showed that fluorescence from the Corn Belt, which extends from Ohio to Nebraska and Kansas, peaks in July at levels 40 percent greater than those observed in the Amazon.

The analysis revealed that carbon cycle models – which scientists use to understand how carbon cycles through the ocean, land and atmosphere over time – underestimate the productivity of the Corn Belt by 40 to 60 percent.

Unlike most vegetation, food crops are managed to maximize productivity. They usually have access to abundant nutrients and are irrigated. The Corn Belt, for example, receives water from the Mississippi River. Accounting for irrigation is currently a challenge for models, which is one reason why they underestimate agricultural productivity.

According to Frankenberg, the remote sensing-based techniques now available could be a powerful monitoring tool for food security, especially data from OCO-2 and in combination with data from other upcoming satellites, such as NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive, scheduled for launch later this year.

Evolution of Prescription Farming

LGSeeds_logo2012LG Seeds shares the evolution of prescription farming.

When we think about technology advancement over the past 20 years a good example is our electronic devices. Smart phones, hand held tablets, sleeker computers; all these devices having data/software storage by the gigabyte and increasing. We live in a technology driven age with demand for real time information. This technology is common place in our society, but has also incorporated itself quite extensively into production agriculture over the past few years.

Prescription Farming at the Beginning
When thinking about prescription farming, variable rate fertilizing and/or seeding, generally comes to mind. Variable rate seeding began with the advent of hydraulic motors serving as the drive or transmission on the planter, giving farmers the chance to change seeding rates on the go. They were also putting GPS receivers and equipment on and in their tractors and combines for auto-steer and yield mapping capabilities.

Prescription Farming Today – Nutrient Application
The evolvement of prescription farming has become more of a streamlined process in farming today. Incorporation of the “smart technologies” into the farm, along with modern GPS/rate controlling equipment
has led to more fine tuning of seeding prescriptions and nutrient application. Nutrient management has seen
an influx of aerial imagery from satellites, airplanes, and now unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s).

Prescription Farming Today – Variable Rate Seeding
With past history of yield maps, fertility tests/maps, and topography/soil information for a field, we now have the opportunity to layer different data points on top one another to create more precise seeding zones.

Recently, LG Seeds parent company, AgReliant Genetics, began to do additional hybrid testing beyond traditional strip tests and randomized research yield trials. Testing includes population trials in high, medium, and low yielding environments along with larger strip tests over multiple soil types and topography changes, allowing for multiple data points across hybrid entries at one location. In the future, this data can be coupled with the grower’s yield history and soil tests to get more accurate seeding rates, in the right locations of the field.

Between the Ears - Evolution of Prescription Farming

You can view the entire release here.

AgriImage Announces Ag-Scout Extreme

AgriImageCrop scouting is getting more fun because of companies like AgriImage. I first learned about this company before this year’s National Farm Machinery Show. Finally, I caught up with company Vice President, Sean Pinkerton, to talk about their products.

The newest addition to their line-up is the Ag-Scout Extreme.

AgScout ExtremeIt features a carbon fiber airframe that makes it lightweight and very durable. The Ag-Scout Extreme has larger motors and propellers for an increased payload capacity and high wind stability. The package includes everything needed to get in the air. Our Ag-Scout Extreme revolutionizes precision agriculture. It will make scouting your crops easier than ever saving you time and money.

Sean says this is now their most popular model using NDVI imagery to help create more precise spraying and fertilizer prescriptions. The unit virtually unaffected by wind. He suggests keeping it below 400 feet and to be courteous of neighbors and their property. He also mentioned not flying it near an airport. That’s good advice!

You can listen to my interview with Sean here: Interview with Sean Pinkerton

Hick Chick Chat with Precision Hawk

11326519286_c9a07ae0bf_oWhen I attended the American Seed Trade Association CSS and expo in Chicago, I was live tweeting some of the events and had some interaction with Precision Hawk. I wasn’t familiar with them so I decided to check them out. Through conversation, I got a chance to talk with their COO Pat Lohman in this week’s edition of the Hick Chick Chat.

patlPat tells us how they got started with the company some 4 years ago and where they look to be headed. He mentions how they started as a best control company with simulated hawks to keep other birds from bothering the grapes in wine country and now they are a full blown data company with inquiries coming from many different industries, most recently a cemetery. This information that Precision Hawk can provide can be shared and used by the grower, a seed dealer and other consultants.

You can listen to the Hick Chick Chat here: Hick Chick Chat Pat Lohman, Precision Hawk

Join in the conversation on Twitter and on Facebook

Ag Interest in UAVs Really Taking Off

nfms14-uavUnmanned Aerial Vehicles – call them UAVs or drones or just remote-controlled airplanes – have been around for decades, but using them for agricultural practices is just really starting to take off.

A good crowd showed up for a session on UAVs sponsored by Farm Industry magazine at the recent National Farm Machinery Show where University of Kentucky (UK) mechanical engineer Dr. Suzanne Smith was one of the presenters. The UK recently announced the formation of an Unmanned Systems Research Consortium (USRC) to advance unmanned aerial, ground and underwater systems, and to explore commercial applications for the technology in Kentucky.

nfms14-uav-uk“It’s faculty members from across the university,” says Smith. “From ag, ag engineering, forestry, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science – all working together to advance technologies – and we’re working with companies.”

She and other panelists entertained lots of questions from the audience at the NFMS which indicated a great deal of interest from farmers in using more advanced UAV technology. “It’s very exciting right now,” she said. “In the end it’s really time-saving and efficiency, and that’s what everybody is really looking for.”

Find out more in this interview: Interview with Suzanne Smith, University of Kentucky

2014 National Farm Machinery Show Photo Album

Sponsored by Ag Leader Technology

SatShot, MapShots Integrate for Better Imagery

mapshots-14-lanny-faleideAs we’ve talked about this week, integration was a key theme of the recent MapShots Customer Conference in Atlanta, Ga., as the company brought in customers and the other precision agriculture providers used in its AgStudio software. Lanny Faleide, President/CEO of SatShot, a satellite and aerial imagery company, said MapShots uses the sophisticated images and the agricultural know-how that SatShots adds to those pictures.

“We take an ag perspective, understand the agronomy, reasons why an image will work in the precision ag market and for crop insurance diagnostics as well, and we’re able to put that agricultural flair to it,” he said. Lanny added MapShots is an integrator of their product. “A few years ago, we took the tact of wanting to do one thing really well: distributing the data. We integrate with these farm softwares, and they do the more intense precision ag techniques, and we provide that data automatically [that has that agricultural flair].”

Lanny also talked about how SatShot provides the information in the image, such the biomass or quality of the vegetation. Then, using the MapShots AgStudio software, a producer is able to come up with a prescription and plug that into their hardware out in the field to make sure the right amount of seed, fertilizer, and/or pesticides and herbicides are applied at the right place at the right time. In the future, he said SatShot will scale up its automatic notification system when new imagery is available, as well as working with new satellite companies that will take the imagery technology to the next level

You can listen to Chuck’s interview with Lanny here: Interview with Lanny Faleide, President/CEO of SatShot

You can find Chuck’s photos from the event online here: 2014 MapShots Customer Conference Photo Album

Geovantage Has Birds-Eye View of MapShots Info

Another one of the integrating partners with MapShots’ AgStudio software that showed and explained their product at the MapShots Customer Conference in Atlanta, Ga., was aerial imagery specialists Geovantage.

mapshots-14-nick-morrow“[We] offer an aerial imagery solution for agriculture in a rapid response format, providing you with what you want, where you want it, and when you want it,” explained Nick Morrow, Geovantage company operations manager, adding that MapShots’ customers can now receive high-resolution images of their field through AgStudio, which is why he’s at the MapShots conference.

He went on to say he wanted to present use cases so producers can see the potential of the information gathered by Geovantage and shared through AgStudio. Nick also said he expects the partnership with MapShots to grow both companies.

“The integration with the third party applications is what’s really going to change things. Now you actually use the data in the application,” he said, adding that Mapshots’ integration with Geovantage was something that came by popular demand. “Many of our customers use MapShots. They’ve been asking us for years to get the imagery in there faster, and now we should have a very seamless, push-button order.”

You can listen to Chuck’s interview with Nick here: Interview with Nick Morrow, Geovantage

You can find Chuck’s photos from the event online here: 2014 MapShots Customer Conference Photo Album

UAV Aerial Imagery Solution from MyAgCentral

my-ag-centralMyAgCentral, a division of DN2K, has announced “the first of its new cloud-based end-to-end solutions for agriculture, which gives growers a simple and affordable way to leverage aerial agronomic imagery.”

DN2K has partnered with three industry-leading entities to offer a fully integrated workflow solution that streamlines the process of flying fields and capturing, storing, processing, viewing and sharing aerial images.

ageagletestwingMyAgCentral partners with AgEagle for UAV hardware, Prime Meridian as a MyAgCentral service provider, and APIS for UAV education and training, to deliver simple, affordable and advanced imagery solutions to support growers, agronomists and agricultural service providers.

“Right now UAVs are a very promising technology in the agriculture community, with numerous companies bringing products to market. But we’re the first group to connect all the dots and provide solutions from beginning to end. It’s the ‘easy button’ that people interested in UAVs and aerial imagery have been waiting for,” said Bret Chilcott, Founder of AgEagle.

Trimble Adds UAS to Ag Portfolio

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 7.33.39 PMToday Trimble announced the addition of its Trimble UX5 unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to their agriculture products portfolio for aerial imaging and mapping. The system provides farmers’ trusted advisors—such as agronomists, Trimble resellers, and other Ag service providers—with a powerful data collection tool that can aid with recommendations to improve farming operations.

The new product can to easily capture aerial images for scouting and monitoring crop health such as detecting pests, weeds and nitrogen deficiencies. It can even locate cattle and what forage they have available over large areas, measure crop height and generate topographic maps and models for land leveling and drainage applications.

Trimble UX5 flies at 50 mph and is stable in crosswinds and even light rain. In a 50 minute flight it will cover a two sqare kilometer area at five centimeter image resolution. The camera can capture the near-infrared spectrum, which helps in deducing vegetation indexes for crop health assessment. The output of a single flight provides geo-referenced precision images, a digital surface model (DSM) showing elevations as a color image and a dense 3D point cloud that includes elevations.

“The addition of the Trimble UX5 system strengthens our agriculture product portfolio and enables us to provide a solution that benefits a broad range of customers including growers, ranchers, water management contractors, agronomists and other Ag service providers,” said Joe Denniston, vice president of Trimble’s Agriculture Division. “High-speed aerial imaging is a powerful tool that can quickly and easily locate problem areas to be addressed. The faster a problem area is discovered, the better the chance it can be evaluated and resolved before crop yield is impacted.”

Trimble provides training for system operators and their observers, which focuses on safety precautions and the application of the UAS. Trimble UX5 system is available from Authorized Agriculture Distribution Partners and is subject to regulations and restrictions defined by local civil aviation authorities. Unmanned aircraft systems are currently not allowed to be flown in some regions or for certain applications. For more information on the Trimble UX5 system, visit.

SST Software Partners With GeoVantage

SST Software, an industry leader in precision agriculture, will soon offer remote sensing services to growers and ag service providers in partnership with GeoVantage, a global provider of multi-spectral imagery.

sstThe partnership will enable SST to provide seamless ordering, acquisition, and delivery of multi-spectral imagery across the U.S., Canada, and Australia. SST’s software currently manages approximately 85 million acres of farmland across 23 countries.

“This imagery as a data layer is used to help growers and service providers make better management decisions,” said Tim Riley, SST Business Development Director, who adds that GeoVantage has a proprietary platform for acquiring the imagery via airplanes. “They have strategically placed assets throughout the country and heavily in the same areas where we have customers. Because of that, it was just a natural partnership.”

Starting in spring 2014, ag service providers using SST Summit will be able to order imagery on demand and Riley says they are very excited about future applications. “There’s a lot of buzz around the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle systems and we plan to integrate that type of data into our system, as well as satellite imagery.”

Listen to Riley explain more here: Tim Riley, SST comments on partnership with GeoVantage

Looking Ahead to ASFMRA Agronomics Vision 2015

With the conclusion of the recent Agronomics Vision 2014 conference and American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers annual meeting in Reno, the group was already looking forward to next year. In the video below, President-Elect Fred Hepler of Cottonwood Management in Oklahoma talks about plans for next year’s conference in Tucson, AZ, October 27 – November 1, 2014.

Hepler says new technology will be a bigger part of next year’s program with an expanded look at unmanned aerial vehicles and their use as a tool for managers, consultants and appraisers.

You can listen to my interview with Fred here: Interview with Fred Hepler

Agronomics Vision 2014 Photo Album

AgWired coverage of the ASFMRA Agronomics Conference is sponsored by Halderman Farm Management.

Genscape Invokes NASA for Corn Crop Forecasting

Using NASA satellite data, Genscape has released an updated October corn yield forecast of 13.3 billion bushels. The company has noted that other analysts, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), have wide gaps in their predictions ranging from 13.2 billion bushels of corn produced during the 2013 growing season, to 14.2 billion bushels of corn.

Genscape Landviewer Oct 2013 corn forecastGenscape said a unique combination of spring floods and flash droughts, coupled with an unusually long growing season, have conspired to make this year’s annual corn forecast the most difficult on record. However, the company said through its Landviewer technology that utilizes precision agriculture tools, is able to simplify the complexity of predicting forecasts.

“Given the unusual circumstances around this year’s growing season, we feel our NASA satellite and big data initiatives are even more important,” said Dr. Steffen Mueller, director of spatial grain analytics at Genscape. “We are back to our original prediction of 13.3 billion bushels, and we have the hard data to back it up.”

Genscape said its LandViewer model offers next generation data acquisition techniques, integrates NASA satellite imagery, and the industry’s most unified ground-based crop yield verification – called “ground truthing – coupled with extensive analysis by experienced soil/agricultural scientists, to offer corn crop forecasting.

The company notes that normally at this time of year, the USDA incorporates Farm Service Agency (FSA) lost acreage data; however, this year that analysis has not available to market participants because of the temporary government shutdown. As a result, and because the company is able to incorporate NASA satellite imagery with best-in-the-industry ground truthing data, their latest forecast is the only known model to currently account for lost acreage data.

Precision Pays Podcast: What about drones?

pp-podcastThe use of drones in agriculture is still being questioned. 

Dr. Kevin Price with the Kansas State University Department of Agronomy presented at last week’s IDEAg Interconnectivity Conference in Altoona, Iowa.  He says with the new technologies that are available, unmanned aircraft systems are going to be highly beneficial in the agriculture industry.  It will allow those that are using the drones to scout fields, check on livestock, and perform other agricultural applications.

In this Precision Pays Podcast we sit down with Dr. Kevin Price and learn more about how drones can be used in various ways related to agriculture.

Precision Pays Podcast



Aerial Precision Ag is Ready to Fly Multirotors

Aerial-Precision-Ag-Product-Mutlirotor-UAV-1Aerial Precision Ag is officially off the ground and flying. Following great success at AgConnect 2013, the Aerial Precision Ag, also known as APA, decided to pursue additional exhibits in order to provide the information and education that producers need surrounding Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) assisted precision agriculture. The company will be attending several shows and exhibits this year including the following: Farm Progress Hay Expo, Farm Progress Show, The InfoAg Conference, and Husker Harvest Days.

Aerial Precision Ag is providing producers an easy to fly multirotor platform that captures HD video and photo images for use in precision agriculture operations. Producers no longer have to wait on a third party for crucial updates. The advantage of aerial imagery is giving producers immediate access to a birdseyeview of their fields to determine crop progression, plant health, storm damage, herbicide and insecticide application windows, drainage management, livestock monitoring, water runoff, as well as documented crop production.

The APA UAVs are professional multirotor units that are assembled, calibrated, and tested in the corporate headquarters in Tempe, Arizona and sold from the national sales office in Jackson, Missouri. The durable units have builtin gyros that allow for steady hovering and easy flying for every customer, and all parts are replaceable and very durable. APA multirotors can cover a two mile radius and reach altitudes up to 400 feet. Photos and video are captured on a memory card in the camera and can be transferred directly to a computer or smartphone for immediate review and storage.