Tag Archives: Aerial Imagery

Mavrx – Crop Imagery Meets Crop Scouting

Crop Imagery Meets Crop ScoutingIn the world of precision agriculture, it seems that the number of crop imagery companies is multiplying faster than rabbits at the local county fair.

There is one company, however, that is looking to be different by putting a high-tech twist on crop imagery by mixing it with crop scouting. The name of this company is called Mavrx and it is taking its hybrid concept to the air in full force for the 2015 growing season.

Using in-season images to aid the actual boots on the ground task of crop scouting is nothing new. However, the way Mavrx does it – and the product that it delivers — is what sets it apart in this increasingly crowded field.

The secret sauce of Mavrx is that it takes the images and identifies the hotspots and trouble spots within a field before they are delivered to you. Mavrx automatically tells you where and how important these areas are before you get there. You know exactly how many acres the problems may be, plus the severity of the problem and the calculated economic impact to date. Think of it as your own John Madden chalkboard for crop scouting.Mavrx Screenshot

Crop scouting has traditionally been a very labor intensive task requiring not only long days but also a high-level skill set. The problem is that no matter how long the days are, there just aren’t enough hours to cover more acres and be effective.  Plus, in the past most of the scout’s time was spent in the field looking for problems instead of solving them.  You might have been within 50 feet of a growing aphid infestation, and you would miss the whole thing. These issues are going to be a bigger problem as farms and fields grow in size, while the number of veteran agronomists is not keeping pace.

Mavrx seeks to leverage such agronomy expertise by providing a product that allows agronomists and producers to monitor more acres more effectively.  This is accomplished by streamlining and refining the delivery of the product to the end-user.  Mavrx knew the first issue with past imagery products is that by the time the picture of the field had been taken and delivered, the value of the image had already become stale.  Mavrx seeks to deliver a fully processed product with 24 to 48 hours. You are personally notified by email and text when a new image is ready for you in your personal cloud account on the Mavrx web-based dashboard. Think of it as Instagram for your farm’s fields.

Mavrx’s intent is to make their online dashboard your in season flight control center where you can view changes within a field during the season. You can also integrate Mavrx imagery with other key GIS data to help provide underlying clues as to what is causing certain issues within a field, such as data to help identify troublesome wet spots and historical yield maps to see if such problems have appeared in the field before in similar locations. As a bonus to users, Mavrx is providing multiple years’ worth of field imagery from LandSat satellite imagery library to establish historical markers when evaluating current high-resolution imagery.

Mavrx on Desktop, Tablet and MobileThe functionality of the Mavrx imagery doesn’t stop at scouting. That is only one of the many possible uses for the imagery. When delivered to a user’s dashboard account, the imagery is already geo-referenced and in the correct file format (such as a GeoTiff) so that it can be easily exported to other popular GIS programs (like SST, SMS and MapShots) to create in-season prescriptions for nitrogen, or even targeted pest management.

One of the final feathers in Mavrx’s cap is the diversity of the imagery that you get from a flight. Currently, most of the imagery is flown by manned aircraft, with many of them equipped to capture regular, NDVI and also thermo images simultaneously.  Unlike many other providers who only provide one image type, with Mavrx you literally get three for the price of one. That’s a big deal: each image type has certain advantages. Veteran agronomists say that NDVI is better at telling them whether plants are hungry and need nutrients like nitrogen, while thermo does a better job of detecting whether plants are sick. Many times a thermo image can detect stress days before a regular or NDVI image.

By delivering imagery with a purpose Mavrx has set itself apart in this crowded field. Agronomists and producers who want to learn how Mavrx can help improve their field scouting and in-season crop management contact William Underwood at Prime Meridian at 660-492-5626 or via email: william.underwood@primemeridiandata.com. For more details on Mavrx check them out on the web at: www.mavrx.co.

Making it Pay: Applying Aerial Imagery at the Ground Level

There is the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. But the question that many growers are asking is…what is the value of in-season aerial crop imagery?

Up until now the answer probably would have been – “not much”. Historically, many factors have diminished the value of “in-season” field portraits in the eyes of growers.   Either it wasn’t timely enough as some past services had turnaround times of over 2 weeks. Then, there was the issue of “grainy” images as the resolution on some “satellite” or even “flown” products was less than adequate. Then there was the issue of bang for your buck – in other words was the product worth it?  Probably not, if it didn’t arrive on time and/or even if it did it had the clarity of an out-of-focus eye-chart.

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All that being said there is another saying that says don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. The fact is, there is tremendous value in timely, high-resolution aerial imagery that can have an immediate positive affect on a growing crop and future crop-year management decisions. And the good news for growers is today such services are much more timely and the technology has improved greatly.

Seeing the present value in this for its clients, Prime Meridian has teamed with Bill Stocks of Aerial Imagery Solutions of Chadwick, IL to add aerial imagery as an advanced agronomic service for its agri-retail partners and producers.

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The goal is to provide real “information” –  not just images back to agronomists and growers so that they still have time to “take action” while the crop can still benefit.

For example, in-season aerial imagery can address such issues as:

  • Nitrogen deficiency
  • Fertilizer and herbicide misapplication
  • Weed and insect infestations
  • Pivot irrigation equipment or sprinkler malfunctions

In addition to the “real-time” management benefits listed above, there is an agronomic and economic bonus that comes by taking a “rear-view mirror” management approach to the data. By comparing geo-referenced imagery data such as NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) to ground truth data like GPS yield, variety and population information there is a lot one can learn from a bird’s eye view.  Some of the types of post-harvest data analysis possibilities include: 

  • Correlation of image NDVI values to actual yield map values
  • Comparison of image NDVI values to actual nitrogen rates
  • Evaluating NDVI value differences between different varieties
  • Looking for correspondence between seeding population rates and NDVI values
  • Possible relationship between NDVI to actual field topo evaluation values
  • Comparison of soil EC readings to NDVI values

And the list goes on… As you can see from the above possibilities aerial imagery can produce more than just a “pretty picture”.  It is a real-time and rear-view mirror management tool that can yield real results when applied properly. To discover more about Prime Meridian’s new aerial imagery offerings or if you’re ready to schedule your “farm’s” portrait, contact GIS specialist Justin Ogle at 417-667-4471 or via email at justin@primemeridiandata.com.

Drones and Precision Agriculture: The Sky is the Limit

Autosteer literally changed the face and direction of precision agriculture. That whiz-bang technology came about because once highly sophisticated military technology was commercialized. Just take a look at what has happened. Tractors and combines now roll off the production line complete with GPS from the factory just like it was as common of a technology as AM/FM radio.

Now another military technology is about to infiltrate precision agriculture. Last week the Wall Street Journal took a look at drone technology and how it could change the agricultural landscape when it comes to managing crops in the future. I had a chance to chime in on what it might mean for our industry and I believe we have only scratched the surface of what’s possible. Pardon the pun, but in this case I really do believe the sky is the limit! What do you think?

View the full Wall Street Journal article, “Drones Hit New Turf: U.S. Farmlands,” by clicking here.