Tag Archives: Agronomic Data

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.

Precision Agriculture needs a “Jitterbug” and an “Easy Button”

The other day the daughter of one of our customers said something that made so much sense that it bears repeating.

“Wouldn’t it be great if there was actually a Jitterbug monitor for precision ag,” she said. “This stuff needs to be simpler so people like my granddad can use it.”

Photo via Toptechreviews.net.

For those who don’t know what a “Jitterbug” is – it is a cell phone made specifically for those who are “technologically adverse” or simply were a generation ahead of the “personal computer revolution.” In other words – a simple cell phone – with an emphasis on being a phone and double emphasis on being simple. No smart phone apps or complex data plans – simply a nice phone with big buttons, large display and robust volume. You know – the important things you might want in phone!

These comments reveal a persistent problem that plagues precision agriculture. It’s still too complicated! The hardware is too hard to run! And sometimes you truly may need to be a rocket scientist in order to operate this stuff.

For a segment of the agricultural industry that is nearly two decades old – precision agriculture should be simpler and offer a better user experience than it currently does. When the most complex task most operators of the hardware can achieve is simply pushing a button marked “A” and another button marked “B” so that you can drive straight – that is not what I would call fulfilling the promises of precision ag.

A $25,000 autosteer system should be able to do more than just drive a straight line. It should be a management tool that is like your own personal assistant that you take to the field with you recording exactly what you’re doing agronomically on your farm. It should be easier than it is to record the varieties you plant, the number of seeds you plant, the herbicides you spray and the number of bushels you harvest.

But those tasks are still hard to do because iron and hardware companies remain clueless or too hardheaded on how to easily collect the most basic, yet most important agronomic details regarding crop production. In order to outdo each other these precision ag companies continue to awe us with their latest bells and whistles. Meanwhile, the basics and the agronomic promises of precision ag have been left behind in the dust.

So it my contention that whoever comes up with the “Jitterbug” or the “Easy Button” of precision hardware will win the game. Technology can only truly fulfill its promise when it becomes transparent. Because it is not the hardware that should be the focus of precision agriculture it is the agronomy. And if we’re too confused about which button to press we’ll never get there.

That’s why Prime Meridian has worked very hard putting together BASIC multi-year precision plans called “Prime Packages” that focus solely on getting good data to and from the field. It would be a lot easier if the hardware companies would jump on the precision agronomic bandwagon but until then we’ll keep fighting the good fight and continue delivering SIMPLE to our customers.

The Final Frontier of the Information Age

In 1982 John Naisbitt published his prophetic best seller entitled, Megatrends. His overall theme and prediction was that modern America was in the middle of a revolution. A revolution that would see an industrial-based economy upended by something called an information society.

He couldn’t have been more dead on. His predictions were amazingly precise especially considering that the Internet was basically in its infancy and no one had ever heard of an iPhone or Google.

One of the industries that’s in the middle of one of the final battles of this revolution is agriculture. There was a time only a few short years ago that the coffee shop talk centered around the horsepower of Farmer Joe’s new 4-wheel drive tractor or seeing Tom’s 24-row planter in the field for the first time. Today as you listen in on these conversations the horsepower and big machinery talk has been superseded by discussions about Internet Service Providers, bandwidth and mobile Mi-Fi’s.

There is no doubt that farming is not what it used to be and it will be transformed in ways that we have yet to comprehend. The biggest issue at hand is how will producers on the farm – the place where agriculture originates – adjust to this sea change in the agricultural landscape? Getting used to the space-age controls of a new tractor is one thing but managing mountains of streaming agronomic and economic data is an entirely separate skill set.

There are certain to be casualties in this revolution and it will change the landscape and demographics of agriculture in its wake. Prediction: farms will get bigger. Older producers will choose retirement rather than to fight this new battle. Bandwidth and connectivity will become the new horsepower on the farm. And alongside the farm manager and your trusted agronomist will be your new information manager.

Who will train YOU for this battle? How do YOU even go about fighting such a battle? This is why Prime Meridian came to be. We saw this revolution looming on the horizon and we decided to act to help prepare producers with the services and skills that they would need in order to win in this brave new world.

Soon John Naisbitt’s prophecy will be complete. Agriculture has shifted its focus to the information age and data is becoming the farm’s most important crop. The final question is whether you and your farm are prepared to fight this new battle? If you’re waiting for a modern-day Paul Revere to warn you about the information age – take note – that horse rode about 30 years ago.