With superior eyesight, swift agility and the gift of flight, aerial drones are proving better than humans in many forms of detailed data collection. These superpowers are driving drones’ interest and investment across a growing number of industries, including agriculture.
Greg Emerick (pictured), co-founder and executive vice president of business development at Sentera LLC, applies the efficiency of drones’ cutting-edge technology to the oldest industry on the planet, farming.
“We’ve taken the sensors that we build … and integrated them onto different DJI platforms. … We pull the data out, pull it into our software, do the analytics on it, and then push it into other analytics tools that are used for agricultural purposes,” said Emerick about the streamlined process drones and DJI afford Sentera. The company utilizes DJI’s software developer’s kit to fly its drones via a mobile app, making crop inspections easier, safer and more affordable than ever, according to Emerick.
Emerick spoke with Jeff Frick (@JeffFrick), co-host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, during the AirWorks 2017 event in Denver, Colorado. They discussed the impact of drones on agriculture and mused on where the technology may take the industry in the future.
Greater insights for improved crop health
Prior to the development of drone technology, agricultural inspection was based largely on sampling, often resulting in inaccurate readings that risked the health of the crop. Farm owners could calculate fertilizer, soil levels, precipitation and other aspects of their operation but lacked essential information about the status of their crop.
“What they need is this real-time opportunity to look at them … [to] identify what they might want to do, and then from there create an application,” Emerick said. Armed with drones and DJI’s software, Sentera’s tools can ensure all crops are accounted for and inform better business decisions, he explained.
Drone’s enable far more for Sentera than plant counts. Using a variety of cameras and other tools, Emerick and his team scan, detect and treat farms for any threat to the crop. “We’ll … identify the location of weeds in the field and then push that into other tools … that can … help improve the crop production,” he said.
Excited by the progress he’s seen so far, Emerick is confident the future will only bring new advancements to drone technology. “Tighter integration into the platforms themselves … and a lot more data,” he said, naming just a few items on his wish-list.
Efficiency is a high priority for Sentera as the company continues the work of improving agricultural processes and increasing food production for all. “That’s what gets us up every day,” Emerick concluded.