Precision Ag Uses AI on Imagery from Drones, Satellites


The original idea was to check up on what drones were doing back on the farm. A number of drone startups emerged in recent years with the idea to deploy flying cameras and other sophisticated sensors that can collect data ranging from crop health or plant disease to real-time livestock monitoring. Apparently, 2015 was the heyday for this type of technology in agriculture. Here some of the most famous companies in the field:

As the startup called AgroScout that has a business model based on appealing to the frugal farmer who needs only a smartphone and a small off-the-shelf commercial drone to get started. The company’s AgroScout Sky app does the rest by integrating data collected by drones using AI technologies.

One of the leading companies is PrecisionHawk that for agriculture employs commercial drones from the world’s biggest drone manufacturer. Sensors mounted to the drones can collect data in different spectra.

Another drone imagery company rooted in agriculture but has grown other solutions is AgEagle. On the agriculture front, its FarmsLens stitches together thousands of high-resolution, multi-spectral images together to produce detailed prescription maps for everything from disease and pest infestations to weather impacts and improper irrigation. AgEagle is also jumping on the hemp CBD crazy train with its targeted HempOverview solution, which applies its aerial mapping technology for monitoring and regulating fields of marijuana plants.

A startup that specializes in agricultural intelligence from drones and satellites, as well as on-the-ground sensors and other data sources, is Tel Aviv, Israel-based Taranis that operates fleets of drones and low-flying aerial vehicles that capture ultra-high-resolution imagery. Its AI system analyzes these images and aggregates data from satellites, sensors, and smart irrigation systems, to detect early signs of crop diseases, insect infestations, nutrient deficiencies, water damage, and other crop risk factors.

The business case for near real-time geospatial intelligence – turning space-based imagery into actionable data using AI – has become strong enough to convince investors to pour loads of money into pure-play satellite startups like Satellogic that last year it successfully launched 10 new satellites, bringing the total in orbit up to 21, most of which can produce images sharp enough to see details at a resolution of just a couple of feet. Satellogic’s AI platform then turns images into data layers for various applications. Satellogic boasts it “now owns the largest orbital capacity of high-resolution, high-frequency commercial data in the industry.”

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