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 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
Valley Variable Rate Irrigation
Precision AgMaximizing Returns From Water Inputs
March 3, 2014
Irrigation manufacturers have developed some vital new technologies to fine-tune irrigation and save growers money, water, energy and labor. Read More
Todd Golly and UAVs
Precision AgReal-World UAV Experience In Agriculture
February 3, 2014
Minnesota grower Todd Golly shares his views on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles. Read More

Trending Articles

MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More
ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science Review
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More
EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More
HerbicidesScouting Key To Next Season’s Soybean Herbicide Program
August 12, 2014
When growing soybeans, growers need to think ahead to stay one step ahead of weeds. That means examining weed threats and evaluating which herbicides work best. Read More
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Acquires Lemon Ag Services
August 4, 2014
The acquisition of Lemon Ag fits BRANDT’s aggressive corporate strategy of providing superior agronomic advice and services for customers in central Illinois. Read More

Latest News

Seed/BiotechBerendes Joins Verdesian Board Of Directors
September 2, 2014
Verdesian Life Sciences announced that Robert Berendes has recently joined the company's board of directors. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
WebinarsWebinars On Demand
September 2, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches Performance Agriculture Brand
September 2, 2014
Performance Agriculture complements Pinnacle’s existing brands, including Sanders, the company’s flagship farm input retail brand. Read More
Webinars5 Key Benefits Of Attending A Webinar
September 2, 2014
Webinars can provide ag retailers with a convenient option for gaining knowledge on the latest industry issues and solutions. Read More
Crop InputsBASF Is Betting On A Bright Agricultural Future
September 1, 2014
The crop protection products giant is gearing up for a busy time in agriculture by investing in both product production and development over the next couple of years. Read More
Eric SfiligojAn Erie Feeling For Ag
September 1, 2014
Plenty of water issues have been in the news lately, including the continuing drought in California. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires California-Based Retailer
August 29, 2014
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings will acquire Kerman Ag Resources, Inc., which will operate under Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
Allied Cooperative Grain Plant
ManagementArcadia Co-op To Merge With Allied Cooperative
August 28, 2014
Allied Cooperative has announced that members of Arcadia Co-op voted in favor of a merger with Allied Cooperative, paving the way for the consolidation which will be effective on December 1, 2014. Read More
InsecticidesBioinsecticide VENERATE Now Registered In California
August 27, 2014
Marrone Bio Innovations' VENERATE is a new tool to help California growers control crop-damaging insect pests, fight the development of insect resistance and reduce pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables. Read More
CropLife 100Two Iowa-Based Ag Co-ops To Merge
August 27, 2014
The Board of Directors and management of United Western Coop, Missouri Valley, IA has completed a merger with Heartland Co-op, West Des Moines, IA, effective September 1, 2014. Read More
FertilizerKoch Expands AGROTAIN Nitrogen Stabilizer Portfolio
August 26, 2014
Koch Agronomic Services, LLC has added two new innovative nitrogen stabilizers to the AGROTAIN product family – AGROTAIN ADVANCED and AGROTAIN DRI-­MAXX. Read More
Seed/BiotechDuPont To Build Two Seed Treatment Centers
August 26, 2014
DuPont has announced construction on two state-of-the-art centers dedicated to developing and testing seed treatment formulations, applications and seed handling techniques in an important step toward bringing new solutions to growers. Read More
Seed/BiotechLoveland Products Acquires A Controlling Interest In Ag…
August 26, 2014
Loveland Products, a subsidiary of Agrium , has announced the company has acquired a controlling interest in Agricen, a Dallas-area agricultural biotechnology company delivering biochemical-based products for efficient and sustainable plant nutrition. Read More
StewardshipUp Close Look At The 2014 Environmental Respect Award W…
August 25, 2014
The 2014 Environmental Respect Award winners were honored recently at the 24th annual event in Wilmington, DE. Read More
Eric SfiligojAg Science Rejection Carries Consequences
August 25, 2014
As innuendo and fear dog the regulatory process, agriculture can’t get the new tools it needs to combat world hunger. Read More
LegislationFarmers Dismayed As New Farm Bill Dumps Direct Payments
August 25, 2014
The threatened end of cash subsidies to the nation’s row crop farmers dates back through at least the last two iterations of national agriculture policy legislation. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More