Free satellite images available from OneSoil

The company provides soil management apps to help encourage farmers

One contiguous atmosphere blankets Earth. We all breathe that same air. We all walk on the same band of soil. We all grow food on the same band of soil.

We have a lot in common, all of us who live on planet Earth. 

That’s why OneSoil is an appropriate name for a new satellite imaging organization that provides free images to farmers all around the world.

Why it matters: Satellite mapping information is becoming less expensive to access and manage for farmers.

OneSoil was co-founded in Belarus six years ago by Sasha Yakovlev.

During an online interview from his office in Minsk, Yakovlev said the OneSoil service was initially envisioned as a precision agricultural service for farmers in developing countries. However, they now provide free images to anyone, including farmers in Canada.

Yakovlev isn’t expecting to compete with Trimble or Microsoft’s FarmBeats. He is clear about the role of money in his operation.

“We understand that to do something that impacts the world is impossible without money. We see money only as an essential resource to change the world for the better,” Yakovlev said.

“We want more people, including the younger generation, to be involved in agriculture. We want being a farmer to be cool. We want new technologies to penetrate the industry, helping it to be more efficient.”

OneSoil has access to all current satellite information. Any farm in the world can be dialed up in a matter of minutes. They do this using free public data from the European Space Agency, with high-quality five-metre resolution. With this data, the team builds advanced image processing technologies. Initial image processing takes three or four days, but once the images are processed, they’re available to anyone in a matter of seconds.

“The platform and application are free to any farmer anywhere. You register on our platform and start using in seconds. We believe modern technology must be available to every farmer on Earth.” 

Yakovlev says a main barrier is the high cost of technology solutions and OneSoil aims to break that barrier by providing free images.

“Our revenue source at this moment is large institutions and large corporations for whom we provide images and analytics for a fee. In 2015 and 2016 three of us worked without a salary. Our first investment came in 2017. Now we have 30 professional specialists including agronomy people.

“To demonstrate our capabilities we created an interactive map with data on 60 million fields in the (United States) and Europe. We already know more about fields than any company or state. Statistics from machine learning algorithms are often more accurate than those collected manually.”

He explains that OneSoil technology provides accurate statistics about fields and crops. Buyers and financial analysts will be able to predict yields and trends. Insurance companies will better assess risks. Corporations will find new customers.

Yakovlev says OneSoil differentiates from other platforms by making simple intuitive instruments. A farmer can simply click on his fields. OneSoil has already established all the borders of the fields in many countries. 

With data from the Copernicus Sentinel 1 radar satellite, the team finds the planting date. Then they determine the stages of plant development using multispectral images. 

This helps a farmer choose the best time for application of fertilizers and pesticides.

Platform users add information about their fields, allowing OneSoil to constantly improve their algorithms. 

The more data there is, the more accurate are their recommendations.

“Precision farming is not rocket science. Any farmer anywhere can start with his smart phone or android without spending extra money. Just get into OneSoil and then you start monitoring your fields. Our advantage is communication with the user with very simple and friendly language.

“If you already have layers of data on field maps, you can click on the OneSoil map the borders will match up. You can see all your layers, you can see zones, as applied maps and follow development of your crop day after day. Follow crop development or detect disease or weeds or other problems like drainage

“We can analyze four years of information on your fields. And we draw the maps that you can use for fertilizer to apply different rates in different parts of the field. You don’t need to pay for agricultural consulting to build these maps. All our maps are compatible with other systems. You can easily flow our map to your seeder or combine or other machinery.”

Yakovlev says the team includes agrologists who direct the data analytical procedures.

One example of the free service the team provides is the Corn Kernel Calculator. Email a photo of a corn kernel to OneSoil and within seconds they will relay to you the number of kernels on that cob.

“We never share a farmer’s data with third party. We are a private company and we don’t sell information to anyone.”

This article was originally published at The Western Producer.

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