All it took was a few drone flights over Nebraska cornfields for Mike Ritter, CEO of SLANTRANGE, to show farmers the value of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in agriculture using the technology developed by his company, writes Patrick C. Miller on UASMagazine.com.
After 10 years working on sensors and analytics for General Atomics, Ritter and his team decided to apply their knowledge to agriculture. Working from the company’s headquarters in San Diego, they developed specialized sensor systems and analytical tools that create new types of information for growers on a variety of different crops.
On one of SLANTRANGE’s early test flights in Nebraska, they discovered a six-acre bare spot in the middle of a 160-acre field caused by a malfunctioning planter. Without the UAS imagery, the farmer wouldn’t have known about the problem until it was too late.
The Nebraska farmers were so impressed that they decided to fund the company. Now SLANTRANGE has an office in Lincoln, Nebraska. Ritter said some of those most impressed by what UAS equipped with the company’s technology can do are agronomists and crop consultants who’ve spent many years walking fields and developing an eye for spotting problems.
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Ritter recalled one of them telling him, “I feel like I’ve been doing math on a notepad for years and you’ve just shown me a calculator.”
SLANTRANGE recently unveiled two new sensors it sells to commercial operators providing UAS precision agriculture services. In addition, it released a new version of SLANTVIEW, the company’s proprietary data analytics software. According to SLANTRANGE, the technology more than doubles the resolution, data collection rate and processing efficiency over the previous generation.