On OptiGro And The State Of Imagery

Taking pictures of crop fields from high above, be it satellite or via aircraft, in order to gain insight into crop health and vitality and improve decision making has been around a long time. And for as long as it’s been around, companies have been trying to create a turnkey business model by which a critical mass of end users could utilize imagery in an effective and convenient way.

So it was no surprise that John Deere, given its deep investment in serving the agricultural dealership market in recent years, made a significant move into imagery when it created the OptiGro program in 2006. However, a year later Deere is stepping away from OptiGro, according to retailers and service providers who have been involved with the program.

Deere has not made a formal announcement about its intentions, so I’m not going to speculate on what will ultimately happen with the OptiGro program in particular. But I do have some thoughts about imagery after talking with folks in the field about the state of imagery use today:

1. Remote imagery, at least for now, works best in crop-centric programs. Companies supplying remote imagery successfully are serving tight niches that provide provable paybacks. Sugarbeets, high value veggies, and cotton each have solid success stories attached to use of imagery in season for very specific purposes.

2. Remote imagery can only be taken as far as the expertise that exists on the ground. Jeff Dearborn is precision agriculture manager for Jimmy Sanders Inc., a full service ag retailer based in Cleveland, MS, which has been active in precision agriculture for more than a decade. Jimmy Sanders has invested a lot of time and expertise developing its in-house precision agriculture program, which features use of remote imagery as part of a total package — including some utilization of OptiGro imagery. He noted that many of the service providers who picked up the OptiGro program didn’t have much prior expertise in remote imagery, which made it challenging for Deere to sustain momentum, even with training and Deere people in place. Based on its expertise, Sanders precision program will remain intact as it looks to alternative sources for imagery. But it remains to be seen whether less precision-focused service providers that picked up OptiGro will stick with imagery in the future.

3. Technology Continues to Evolve. Another consideration Dearborn pointed out to me is the rapid improvements occurring in imagery-capturing equipment. The equipment is always improving and it’s important to have the best equipment available, he said. The capital investment required to keep up with technology is significant.

Most of the folks I talked to about imagery said that no matter what happens, Deere’s investment in OptiGro did a lot to increase remote imagery’s profile. It was clearly an attempt to bring imagery to the masses, but in my estimation imagery isn’t a product ready for mass consumption, at least not now. Personally, I give Deere credit for the time and investment it made — perhaps the lessons learned can be applied to future imagery efforts, further extending the benefits it provides consultants, retailers, and growers today in specific programs and niches.

Hopefully, the experience will also “raise all boats” and increase interest in a technology that clearly delivers benefits in the right agronomic program. Only time will tell.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Imagery/Sensing Stories
DataSentera Honored With Startup Award Of 2016 By Minnesota High Tech Association
December 1, 2016
The Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) recently recognized Sentera as the 2016 Tekne Startup Award recipient. The MHTA Tekne Awards Read More
Sentera software
DataSentera AgVault, OnTop Software Platforms Now Available At Tiered Subscription Levels
October 25, 2016
Sentera is enabling every drone user to unlock the power of their data by offering AgVault and OnTop Software Platforms Read More
Drones2016 PrecisionAg Vision Conference: 7 Takeaways From Phoenix
October 24, 2016
Our inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference, held last week in Phoenix, AZ, is officially in the books. Having convened just over Read More
Ag Drone
BusinessDroneDeploy Publishes Drone Mapping Directory
October 12, 2016
DroneDeploy, a cloud-based drone software platform, today unveiled the Drone Mapping Directory, a drone mapping marketplace to connect businesses with Read More
Trending Articles
Kinze 4900 Multi-Hybrid Concept Planter
Business ManagementKinze Fights Deere, Feds To Block Release Of Trade Secrets
November 22, 2016
An antitrust lawsuit intended to block a small-scale deal between agricultural giants John Deere and Monsanto is putting an Iowa Read More
BusinessClimate Corp. Acquires European FMIS Company
November 21, 2016
Today, The Climate Corp., a subsidiary of Monsanto Co., announced the acquisition of VitalFields, a European farm management software company Read More
USDA UAV
Hort TechHigh-Tech Agriculture Continues To Reap Rewards For Farmers
November 11, 2016
Just like a smartphone helps users learn, communicate and make important decisions, smart technology — known as precision agriculture — Read More
BusinessTrimble Launches New FMIS Platform
November 7, 2016
Trimble announced today that it is consolidating three of its agriculture software products — Connected Farm, Farm Works Software and Read More
Grower Services & SolutionsGrower Groups Encourage Implementation Of AgGateway’s ADAPT For Precision Ag
November 2, 2016
A dozen leading U.S. grower organizations are hailing the collaborative efforts that led to the new AgGateway ADAPT framework for Read More
Events2016 Vision Conference: Things Overheard
October 27, 2016
Pardon the baseball pun (GO TRIBE!), but I think it’s safe to say that last week’s inaugural Vision Conference touched Read More
Latest News
TechnologyAgGateway Announces 2017 Board Of Directors And Leaders…
December 2, 2016
AgGateway has announced its leadership for the coming year, including the directors of its new Strategic Board and Operational Board, Read More
DataSentera Honored With Startup Award Of 2016 By Minnesota…
December 1, 2016
The Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) recently recognized Sentera as the 2016 Tekne Startup Award recipient. The MHTA Tekne Awards Read More
AGCO AgControl
TechnologyPrecision Ag Technology: Rate Control For The Times
December 1, 2016
It’s not surprising that the need for more economical, effective application is driving the demand for the latest rate controllers Read More
Farmers Edge Truck
DataFarmers Edge, Trotter Fertilizer Form Partnership To En…
November 29, 2016
Farmers Edge, a global leader in precision agriculture and independent data management solutions, has partnered with Trotter Fertilizer, Nebraska’s foremost Read More
Fall corn
BusinessInsecticide of the Future? Robotic Tanks With Lasers to…
November 22, 2016
*Article Notes: This monthly column takes some crazy sounding ideas and applies them to the field of Ag Tech. The Read More
Topcon X30 Console in cab
Sensors/IoTIoT The Focus Of New Topcon Partnership
November 22, 2016
Topcon Agriculture and SDF plan to enter into a non-exclusive long-term partnership agreement. This latest arrangement of Topcon with a Read More
Kinze 4900 Multi-Hybrid Concept Planter
Business ManagementKinze Fights Deere, Feds To Block Release Of Trade Secr…
November 22, 2016
An antitrust lawsuit intended to block a small-scale deal between agricultural giants John Deere and Monsanto is putting an Iowa Read More
BusinessClimate Corp. Acquires European FMIS Company
November 21, 2016
Today, The Climate Corp., a subsidiary of Monsanto Co., announced the acquisition of VitalFields, a European farm management software company Read More
BusinessFarmobile Releases Mobile Data Visualization Dashboard
November 17, 2016
Farmobile today announced an EFR Dashboard, a real-time dashboard that helps farmers visualize their field data and derive insights to Read More
Southern States
Best PracticesSouthern States: 5 Tips for Variable-Rate Seeding Succe…
November 15, 2016
Success comes from taking advantage of every opportunity you can. One technique used in precision farming, called variable rate seeding, Read More
USDA UAV
Hort TechHigh-Tech Agriculture Continues To Reap Rewards For Far…
November 11, 2016
Just like a smartphone helps users learn, communicate and make important decisions, smart technology — known as precision agriculture — Read More
THRIVE
BusinessCall For Ag Tech Startups: Apply To THRIVE’s Open…
November 10, 2016
THRIVE is looking for high growth ag tech companies with an in-market solution that are positioned to scale. The top 50 Read More
EquipmentJohn Deere Launching New Operations Center Apps, Mappin…
November 10, 2016
In an effort to enhance the functionality, ease-of-use and overall value of John Deere Operations Center to producers, John Deere Read More
ComputersTrimble, CLAAS Announce LEXION Combine Factory Option
November 9, 2016
CLAAS and Trimble announced the introduction of a Trimble Ready machine factory option for CLAAS LEXION combines. CLAAS assembles LEXION Read More
Claas RTK Field base
EquipmentClaas Extends Precision Farming Offering
November 8, 2016
To enable use of automatic steering systems where a real time kinematics (RTK) correction signal is either limited or not Read More
John Deere Operations Center
UncategorizedWxAgrios Integrates With John Deere’s Operations …
November 8, 2016
Precision Weather Solutions Inc. has announced it is the first company with a commercially available solution, WxAgrios, integrated with both John Read More
BusinessTrimble Launches New FMIS Platform
November 7, 2016
Trimble announced today that it is consolidating three of its agriculture software products — Connected Farm, Farm Works Software and Read More
Best PracticesPathways to Precision: Managing Risk With Germplasm
November 7, 2016
No one can know what the conditions will be for the next growing season. Is it possible for a grower Read More