The Rise of Precision Scouting Drones
A few weeks ago, I attended a summit at Louisiana State University regarding precision scouting drones and their application in agriculture. It was a wonderfully informational gathering of agronomists, producers, and a few lucky industry types like myself.
Professors and agronomic experts from the LSU Extension Service presented their views, experiences, and research findings on the practical application of scouting drones for the average grower. Topics covered everything from software to drones to cameras. I was super excited to hear the conversation between the academics and producers, and specifically to listen for areas where Sentera could be more helpful to the average grower. Translating complicated technologies and ideas into easy-to-use products is the best part of my job, so I was happy to be there.
A Complete Solution
My work with Sentera has been primarily focused on pulling together a complete solution for drone-based agricultural scouting — specifically for use by people who require a return on their investment. For me, this boils down to delivering a platform on which someone can easily fly a drone, produce crop health maps with economic value, and then share them out in an actionable way. I (of course) think we’ve done a great job delivering on this vision, and making it easy for the average person.
“The Struggle is Real”
So, I was really surprised by one of the presentations at this conference. It was called “Drones in Ag – The Struggle is Real”. I listened as the presenter detailed why gathering agriculturally useful data with scouting drones can be difficult and fraught with frustration. He detailed how hard it is to create flight paths, stitch the resulting images and generate NDVI or NDRE plant health maps. He cautioned the audience that they’d be interacting with many different companies as they selected a drone, a camera, a flight app, and stitching solution. Finally, he asked, if you’re lucky enough to make it through that, what are you supposed to do with the data? How does it help you either save money or increase yields?
At the end, he had effectively made his point: the struggle is real. According to him, an average consumer must cobble together a solution, comprised of 7 different components from 7 different vendors, all of which barely work together. He said by the time you end up with something workable, you’ve invested dozens of hours, all of which represent distraction from the actual business of farming. This is the state of our industry. It’s unacceptable, and it’s precisely why Sentera’s unified end-to-end approach is so effective.
Our approach at Sentera is the opposite of this, in every way.
The Easy Precision Scouting Solution
We build the sensors, we build the software, and we build the apps that fly the drones. We have engineered every piece of the chain to create a solution that is easy to use, and one that is effective in achieving an economic return.
Sentera customers open the box, push a button and get a crop health map produced by a state-of-the-art, purpose-built agricultural NDVI or NDRE sensor. They do it at the field edge, without an internet connection, and they get their maps in 90 seconds. Our customers achieve a return on their investment through plant population analysis, through NDVI or NDRE plant health maps, and through tight integration with John Deere Operations Center or other popular agricultural tools. For Sentera customers, there is no struggle at all.
The broader market is failing consumers by delivering cumbersome, piecemeal solutions, and this professor effectively called this out. Producers need a solution that requires neither significant investment of time or money, and one whose value can be justified among other farming expenses. Sentera is the only one doing this effectively.