An Aerial Option

Aerial imagery

When John Deere Agri Services chose to shutter its OptiGro remote imagery offering in the spring of 2008, it soon after sold the business to GeoVantage. This was the very same company that Deere had acquired the imagery business from in 2006 to allow it to quickly ramp up an imagery service division.

GeoVantage started out serving the forestry industry with imagery, and currently serves the urban planning and environmental management markets in addition to agriculture. It took some time to get the agriculture division refocused, but the company is ready to go, says Justin Dodge, manager of flight operations.

Now, with a new season ahead and a full year behind it, GeoVantage has re-integrated the agriculture business and is ready to serve retailers, cooperatives, and precision consultants with aerial imagery.

“We identified agriculture as one of our two main focuses,” says Dodge. “Nick Morrow is the lead for that business, and he has picked up where Deere left off.”

“More than anything,” says Morrow, “we will be working with channel partners and consultants to help them develop their own value-added applications that run on our imagery — to get the imagery out to their customers on a unique platform that they can sell.”

Fully Equipped

One of the benefits of Deere’s involvement in the division was the production of the imagery capturing technology. The aerial imagery technology combines a global positioning navigation system (GPS) and inertial measurement unit (IMU) technology in 4-band digital sensors to capture both natural color and Color Infrared (NIR) images. The images are Geographical Information System (GIS) ready, geo-registered, and high resolution.

GeoVantage originally developed the technology, and through the acquisition now owns some 80 camera units built by Deere in 2006. The cameras can be shipped anywhere, and are easily fixed to aircraft. All imagery is captured and delivered digitally, so turnaround time is quick and cost effective.

“The systems feature integrated IMU and GPS,” says Morrow, “with a military-grade IMU that gives it an accuracy advantage over straight GPS systems and allows us to process the imagery very quickly.” Essentially, it gives the company the ability to deliver on the promise of aerial imagery for rapid and accurate visual feedback on field conditions.

“The aerial imagery industry has, in general, made a lot of promises it has not delivered on,” says Dodge. “The real challenge in the past has been to get imagery to the point that you could do something with it. Our mission is to build it to serve the agriculture market and continue to grow the adoption of imagery year-over-year by delivering timely, accurate imagery data that is usable.”

GeoVantage maintains a staff of 10 full-time employees, and relies heavily on outside contracts with pilots, software and hardware builders, and consultants who gather imagery, calibrate, build, and maintain the cameras and other work necessary to delivering imagery.

Partnering Up

The company’s emphasis presently is on building relationships with partners who are already involved heavily with advising growers. For GeoVantage, a good “partner” would be an organization with solid GIS expertise in-house, such as a larger cooperative, independent retailer, or agronomic consultant firm. The company has had a successful relationship with the Iowa Soybean Association, providing imagery for evaluating nitrogen management practices.

“Large organizations lots of times have GIS specialists on staff, and they are looking for data so that they can do more in-depth analysis on a field,” says Morrow.

Smaller retailers or consultants with less expertise in GIS are generally looking for indexes such as Normalized Differential Vegetation Index (NDVI) to provide visual information that can be overlaid with a yield map to help with management. That said, there are few consistencies across customers in terms of who wants what from imagery.

“Every business and every region wants something a little different, or something for a different reason for use,” says Morrow. “One customer might want in-season imagery of corn to look for nitrogen deficiency after a wet spring. Another customer might want to do soil imagery to test the viability of tile work right after a huge rain to see how it worked.”

At some point in the future, GeoVantage will develop a Web-based working “front end” ordering system that will allow “self-service” access to value-added offerings that GeoVantage would develop. But the local variability of farm fields and diversity of individual farmer needs and wants is a limiting factor to developing anything too specific or prescriptive. “We hope to make a value-added offering available at some point, but we are still really trying to determine the nature of that offering,” says Dodge. “Again, the nature of agriculture is localized variability, which makes a one-size-fits-all solution a challenge.”

Imagery is available year-round, and a 2,000-acre minimum is required before an order will be accepted. If a flight is already scheduled, orders can sometimes be piggy-backed making it possible to get imagery for orders less than 2,000 acres.

For more information, contact Nick Morrow at nmorrow@geovantage.com or visit www.geovantage.com.

Leave a Reply

Precision Ag Stories
Precision AgGoogle Glass: New Tool For Ag
October 8, 2014
New wearable smart technologies such as Google Glass show potential to greatly impact how we accomplish the business of feeding the world. Read More
Precision AgPrecision Agriculture: Finding The Payback
September 6, 2014
Profitability in precision ag is not about any one technology, but the result of employing technology in a total system approach that is agronomically sound. Read More
Precision AgUAS: The S Stands For Smart, Service And Sensors
May 1, 2014
The only thing occuring more rapidly than the technologies’ evolution is the clamoring to implement UAS into agriculture as soon as possible. Read More
Precision AgAg Retail: 3 Tech Trends To Watch In 2014
April 1, 2014
It's been a busy first quarter of technology developments in 2014. Here are some of the highlights, and things to watch in the months ahead. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer Warehouse
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Move To Colorado Complete
January 20, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co. announces the opening of its new Agribusiness Division location in the Denver, CO, Metro Area. The new facility will host key personnel as the company shifts the base of its Agribusiness operations from California to Colorado. Read More
CropLife 100United Suppliers, McGregor Co., Five Others To Form Aligned Ag Distributors
January 20, 2015
These companies will continue to operate as independently owned and operated businesses, however, their crop protection divisions will now be formally aligned under the umbrella of Aligned Ag Distributors. Read More
CropLife 100Bozeman Named SEEDWAY Chief Operating Officer
January 16, 2015
He succeeds Donald Wertman, who will retire at the end of August 2015 after 40 years with the GROWMARK subsidiary. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis’ Craig Bair Honored For Safety Contributions To Ag Aviation
January 14, 2015
The William O. Marsh Safety Award recognizes significant achievements in safety, safety education or an outstanding operational safety program. Read More
Latest News
Seed/BiotechDow Details Enlist Trait Stacking Standards
January 30, 2015
Dow says it will allow the Enlist trait to be stacked with advanced glyphosate traits only, and will not allow stacking with the first generation of the Roundup Ready trait. Read More
ManagementCropLife Retail Week: IFCA’s Jean Payne on Illinois wat…
January 30, 2015
Editor Eric Sfiligoj shares insight from the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association conference including a chat with IFCA President Jean Read More
ManagementOABA Conference Set To Highlight Trends, Technology And…
January 29, 2015
The third annual Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) Industry Conference is set to take place February 4-5. Read More
FertilizerThe Fertilizer Institute President Jahn Testifies Befor…
January 28, 2015
The committee hearing, "Freight Rail Transportation: Enhancing Safety, Efficiency, and Commerce," looked at challenges facing our nation's freight rail network created by higher demand, rules and regulations and infrastructure needs. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue University Acquires Technology For Herbicide Mol…
January 28, 2015
Protea's LAESI DP-1000 Instrument System will be used in Purdue's College of Agriculture, the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, for the molecular imaging of herbicide active ingredients and other related compounds to optimize herbicide applications and improve weed management.  Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Hires New Crop Peformance Marketing Manager
January 27, 2015
As Marketing Manager for the Crop Performance division, Usman Khalid will work out of H.J. Baker’s global headquarters in Westport, CT, and will drive new initiatives for the division. Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
Exclusive state-of-the art Stueve Construction designed “Vista View” Elevated Control Room.
Eric Sfiligoj2015 Agricultural Market Read: Mixed
January 26, 2015
The agricultural market could look radically different this year, profit-wise, depending upon which segment you do business in. Read More
Edward Chell Biosafe
Crop InputsBioSafe Systems Names Ed Chell California Territory Man…
January 26, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the recent addition of Ed Chell as California Territory Manager for the agrichemical division, supporting the crop protection, water treatment and food safety business segments. Read More
InsecticidesBayer CropScience Introduces Sivanto Insecticide
January 26, 2015
Sivanto precisely targets key damaging pests at multiple insect life stages to prevent damage to plants and help minimize the spread of diseases from insect carriers. Read More
ManagementRetail Collaboration, Communicating Agriculture’s Good …
January 23, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the recent creation of Aligned Ag Distributors, and the US Farmers and Ranchers Read More
FertilizerOSU Expert: Toledo Water Crisis A Turning Point For Ohi…
January 23, 2015
The August 2014 water crisis in Toledo, OH, impacted Ohioans’ views of Lake Erie algae problems by increasing the attribution of blame of algae growth on agriculture. Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Launching TIGER XP
January 22, 2015
Tiger-Sul introduces this next generation sulphur-bentonite product with a proprietary activator – ensuring farmers have a well-balanced nutrient replacement program. Read More
Crop InputsH.J. Baker Expands China Sales Force
January 21, 2015
Global Agricultural firm H.J. Baker announced that sales veteran Shi Dongshen has joined their Shanghai office in China. This newest hire follows the recent opening of their Lianyungang Sulphur Bentonite Plant. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer …
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
Matt Hopkins5 Bold Predictions For Ag Retail In 2015
January 21, 2015
This past year was filled with ups and downs for the nation’s top ag retailers, but what will 2015 have in store? Read More
SoftwareDeere Launches App Center
January 20, 2015
The John Deere App Center provides users the ability to search and find apps most useful to their business or operations. Read More
Crop InputsNew Syngenta Herbicide Approved In Soybeans, Sunflowers
January 20, 2015
Syngenta will sell BroadAxe XC herbicide in 2015 for use on soybeans, sunflowers and dry peas Read More