Satellite imagery analysis automated

Alerts will tell farmers when there have been changes in fields over time

Farmers Edge believes it has solved the satellite imagery information overload problem with automated alerts.

The company’s farm management dashboard will now send email alerts when algorithms show that there’s a change in field crop health.

Why it matters: Farmers are more likely to adopt farm information systems when they get automated analysis for the data. The Farmers Edge alerts are a first for satellite imagery.

Jamie Denbow, global digital ag lead with Farmers Edge, said several years ago farmers were challenged to find the value in satellite imagery that could only deliver images every 10 days. They had to make a management decision about a crop issue before 10 days was up, so the satellite imagery was used for post-mortem analysis.

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That’s why Farmers Edge signed a deal with Planet Labs — a company putting large numbers of satellites into the Earth’s orbit — so that it now has imagery arriving every two days.

Denbow said farmers soon realized that meant a lot of images to view.

“They said ‘I have so much imagery, I have to use an hour of my morning each day to discover what I’m finding.’” That made an automated evaluation system a priority for the company.

Farmers Edge launched its automated crop health change detection tool Oct. 24, after testing it around the world with farmers.

Instead of sifting through satellite images, the computer system will do that for farmers, comparing the most-recent image with images up to 14-days old and sending farmers alerts by email that will tell them there’s an issue with a certain part of a certain field.

So, now, like dairy farmers with robot milking systems and hog farmers with automatic sow feeding systems that send alerts when parameters change around animal health, crop farmers can get automated alerts that tell them about changes in their crop health.

The system doesn’t just say ‘look at this field’, it borders the problem spot within the field and makes a new layer in the company’s FarmCommand dashboard. That layer can then be loaded into the company’s scouting app and a farmer can drive directly to the problem area.

“This will drive efficiency. Crop scouts can scout more acres, better than before,” Denbow said.

The free upgrade can be added in a 20 second process under alerts in the FarmCommand dashboard.

“I think this is a monumental product launch,” said Denbow. “The automation is huge.”

About the author

Editor

John Greig has spent his career in agriculture journalism and communications. He lives on a farm near Ailsa Craig, Ontario. Contact John at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @jgreig

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