Planet Labs Gives Ag The Big Picture — Literally

In the large open spaces of Planet Labs’ offices in San Francisco, CA, last spring, mounted screens tracked the locations of orbiting satellites beaming data to be processed and analyzed, a special team was sequestered away building new proprietary devices, and Trevor Hammond, Director of Communications for the company, was showing a visitor a rare specimen: one of its satellites that had survived an accidental rocket launch explosion almost fully intact and was recovered. It was roughly the size of a shoe box and clearly had been made to last just a few years in orbit, yet it provided valuable space imagery and data for untold uses and applications among Planet Labs’ many clients, who now include the Climate Corp., Agrian, Farmers Edge, Wilbur-Ellis, Crop Production Services, and FarmLogs.

Welcome to the world of “agile aerospace” — populated by so-called “disposable satellites” that are small and getting even smaller and are built at a fraction of the cost of traditional satellites so that they can provide high-quality, frequently captured, and unrelentingly less expensive aerial imagery for many industries including agriculture. Farmers and advisors, monitoring fields from on high, might detect changes and gain insights that otherwise are unnoticeable on the ground or even by UAVs, thereby “eliminating what we think of as data scarcity,” said Josh Alban, VP of Sales for Planet Labs.

“I think the quote I hear most often from ag retailers is, ‘If I could get at least one cloud-free image a week, think of what I could do,’” said Ryan Schacht, who came over from ESRI and now is Planet Labs’ Agriculture Account Executive. Even better is when that imagery can be integrated quickly and automatically via APIs into precision ag tools like Climate’s FieldView and Wilbur-Ellis’ AgVerdict. “People want images in a matter of hours, and they don’t want to have to work very hard to get them,” Schacht said.

Wilbur-Ellis, he noted, is using Planet’s data not only to deliver insights to growers but also as a market-development tool as the company expands beyond its strong Western base to provide value to Midwestern row crop growers.

And the potential benefits of satellite imagery to all sustainability initiatives also cannot be ignored. “Sustainability in my mind is just keeping accurate records, and knowing you have accurate data that supports crop records,” Schacht said. Enabling growers to produce “artifacts” for any given crop they’ve produced “gets us a long way toward being able to accomplish sustainability because we have the underpinning data to track and measure” crop production.

Schacht said he believes adoption of precision agriculture “is all about continuing down the integration path. I actually think these technologies are becoming integrated quite rapidly. If you think about the fact that you can integrate different soil sensors and weather stations with imagery that’s less than 24 hours old, then have that waiting for somebody in form of a crop scouting report or whatever the case might be — that’s pretty amazing.”

As for the future, “our mission one is to image the entire earth every day,” Schacht said, but after that is a vision that is “almost like the Internet of Things extending into space” — launching really low-cost satellites into space in a really short amount of time. “How is that going to impact farming and sustainability 10 years into the future, 20 years into the future?”

How, indeed?

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Planet Labs Gives Ag The Big Picture — Literally

  1. It does appear that we completely immersed in the need to have ‘almost’ instant knowledge at our fingertips. Long gone seem to be the days when scheduling up a satellite and waiting a month for data collection. Getting weekly image reports is definitely adding another toolset to analyze what is going on in the field, but we are we adding more information than we can handle on a daily basis? It is amazing that this amount of information is at our fingertips and something we’ve been asking about for a very long time. Fun and exciting times with imagery!

Data Management Stories
John Deere Operations Center
Data ManagementMaximize the John Deere Operations Center for Your Customers
August 16, 2018
Today’s farming operation looks different than it did 20, 10, even just a few years ago. Technology continues to shape Read More
Harvest
Data ManagementAre You Ready for This Year’s Digital Harvest?
August 15, 2018
As the days in the Northern Hemisphere slowly get shorter, they are getting longer in the Southern Hemisphere and everywhere Read More
Data Science tablet
Data ManagementMicrosoft, Agile Networks Detail Central Ohio Broadband Expansion Project
August 9, 2018
Agile Networks, a leading provider of telecommunications solutions, and Microsoft Corp. has announced a new agreement to bring broadband internet Read More
BigDataSmall2
Data ManagementPrecision Agriculture: A Smaller Approach to Big Data
August 7, 2018
Big data is one of the most buzzed-about concepts in our industry. Rarely do we read a newsletter, attend a Read More
Trending Articles
Geosys
Industry NewsUrtheCast to Acquire Geosys from Land O’Lakes in $20 Million Deal
August 15, 2018
UrtheCast Corp. and Land O’Lakes, Inc. today announced they have entered a binding term sheet for the purchase of Geosys Read More
1 On 1 With Paul Schrimpf: Simplot’s Allan Fetters
PrecisionAg InstituteOne on One With Simplot’s Allan Fetters
August 8, 2018
Allan Fetters of PrecisionAg Institute partner Simplot Grower Solutions talks about techology trends and key learnings from the recent InfoAg Conference in this exclusive interview with PrecisionAg's Paul Schrimpf. Read More
PrecisionAg InstitutePrecisionAg Institute Whitepaper Library
August 1, 2018
Welcome to the PrecisionAg Institute Whitepaper library! Here you will find free whitepapers and case studies from the PrecisionAg Institute Partners Read More
AmericasIntegrity Ag Group: People Over Precision
July 30, 2018
It’s not every day that this reporter walks into the office of a precision ag dealer, sits across from the Read More
farmer-tractor-tablet
Systems ManagementWhat is Digital Farming — Really?
July 24, 2018
The agricultural community has spent several years synthesizing an operational description for digital farming. In several cases, there have also Read More
Data ManagementInfoAg News: Farmobile Launches DataEngine, Streamlines DataStore Buyer Process
July 17, 2018
Busy times these days out in Leawood, KS, for ag data startup Farmobile, as they continue to – pardon the Read More
Latest News
John Deere Operations Center
Data ManagementMaximize the John Deere Operations Center for Your Cust…
August 16, 2018
Today’s farming operation looks different than it did 20, 10, even just a few years ago. Technology continues to shape Read More
Service ProvidersNew Ag Retail Survey Identifies Key Business Challenges
August 16, 2018
From commodity prices and competition for business to future-proofing the operation, ag retailers shared their challenges and concerns in a recent survey conducted by Proagrica. Read More
WinField’s Joel Wipperfurth On Empowering Data-Driven Decisions
InfoAg ConferenceOne on One with Joel Wipperfurth, Winfield United
August 15, 2018
Winfield United's Joel Wipperfurth discusses ag technology trends and topics during last month’s InfoAg Conference. Read More
Geosys
Industry NewsUrtheCast to Acquire Geosys from Land O’Lakes in …
August 15, 2018
UrtheCast Corp. and Land O’Lakes, Inc. today announced they have entered a binding term sheet for the purchase of Geosys Read More
Harvest
Data ManagementAre You Ready for This Year’s Digital Harvest?
August 15, 2018
As the days in the Northern Hemisphere slowly get shorter, they are getting longer in the Southern Hemisphere and everywhere Read More
Wheelman-Pro
Industry NewsAgJunction Expands Automatic Steering Market to Smaller…
August 14, 2018
AgJunction, the autosteering company, has introduced Wheelman, a new way for farmers to automatically and accurately steer farm equipment at Read More
Drip-irrigation
Precision IrrigationFertigation as a Precision Agriculture Tool
August 14, 2018
Fertigation is a fertilizer application method in which dissolved fertilizers are delivered to the crop through the irrigation system. This Read More
Events5 Reasons You Should Attend Growing Innovations
August 13, 2018
The specialty crop market is wracked by unprecedented change: labor scarcity, water shortages, pressing demands for increased quality and transparency Read More
Data Science tablet
Data ManagementMicrosoft, Agile Networks Detail Central Ohio Broadband…
August 9, 2018
Agile Networks, a leading provider of telecommunications solutions, and Microsoft Corp. has announced a new agreement to bring broadband internet Read More
AmericasIvy Tech Opens Center of Excellence to Train Tomorrow&#…
August 9, 2018
Students interested in careers in precision agriculture equipment technology or diesel technology now have the opportunity to pursue certificates, technical Read More
1 On 1 With Paul Schrimpf: Simplot’s Allan Fetters
PrecisionAg InstituteOne on One With Simplot’s Allan Fetters
August 8, 2018
Allan Fetters of PrecisionAg Institute partner Simplot Grower Solutions talks about techology trends and key learnings from the recent InfoAg Conference in this exclusive interview with PrecisionAg's Paul Schrimpf. Read More
Corn field sunset
Industry NewsTrimble RTX Correction Technology Now Delivers Two Cent…
August 7, 2018
Trimble has announced that its Trimble RTX GNSS corrections technology can now achieve horizontal accuracies of better than two centimeters. Read More
Sentera-Gimbaled-Quad-Sensor
Sensors/IoTSentera Gimbaled Quad Sensor Optimizes Crop Health Data…
August 7, 2018
Sentera’s Quad sensor is now available in an integrated gimbal-stabilized package for DJI Inspire and Matrice drones. Featuring four fully-customizable Read More
BigDataSmall2
Data ManagementPrecision Agriculture: A Smaller Approach to Big Data
August 7, 2018
Big data is one of the most buzzed-about concepts in our industry. Rarely do we read a newsletter, attend a Read More
Grower-Retailer
Industry NewsAgworld, K-coe Isom Form Strategic Partnership
August 6, 2018
Agworld and K-coe Isom have announced a strategic partnership that will see them integrating business advisory and technology to deliver Read More
Industry NewsAgEagle Acquires Agribotix
August 6, 2018
AgEagle Aerial Systems has signed an agreement to acquire substantially all of the assets of Agribotix, a Boulder, CO-based drone-enabled Read More
Digital-Farming
Systems ManagementImplementing Digital Farming’s Five Major Needs
August 2, 2018
Building a house starts with a plan and then a foundation; it does not start with doors and windows. From Read More
PrecisionAg InstitutePrecisionAg Institute Whitepaper Library
August 1, 2018
Welcome to the PrecisionAg Institute Whitepaper library! Here you will find free whitepapers and case studies from the PrecisionAg Institute Partners Read More