Crystal ball for Ag: 4 satellite-imaging startups you should know

Crystal ball for Ag: 4 satellite-imaging startups you should know

Here’s how four new startups are approaching up-to-date, applied satellite imagery for agriculture industry in slightly different ways.

FarmShots wants to give farmers actionable insights around disease management from satellite and drone imagery

FarmShots, a startup from created by a group of students from Duke University, takes satellite images of farms, analyzes them using an algorithm and uses this data to help reduce field-scouting efforts by as much as 90 percent.

“We take satellite imagery pictures of these large, 1,000-acre farms, and we’re able to provide an index of how healthy the crops are,” they say. “Our goal is to become the king of imaging in agriculture and be able to monitor everything that’s happening on the farm from the sky.”

In addition to delivering and processing multispectral satellite, drone, and aircraft images for the agricultural industry, formulas developed by the FarmShots team allow the collection of various parameters, such as the amount of water contained in the plant and the surface temperature of the land.

Astro Digital aims to capture every location on Earth, daily

Astro Digital, a satellite imaging and imagery analysis company, develops an analytics platform that enables customers to easily understand and make use of terabytes worth of satellite data.

So far, the agriculture market has been a key one for the company, however, they are looking at additional ones, ranging from adjacent fields like crop insurance to others, such as asset monitoring, enabled by the later, high-resolution system.

At the moment, Astro Digital only analyzes images from others’ satellites, integrating pics with different resolutions and frequencies. In two months, however, the company will be launching a constellation of 10 small satellites, which will capture every location on Earth, daily.

Vinsight wants to give grape and almond growers a high-tech crystal ball

Vinsight has been developing an application that aggregates geospatial data, weather data, and ground sensor based data to provide the wine industry with analytics for what is happening on the wine.

“We picked one niche application, analysis of vineyards using existing and upcoming remote sensing. Building a bridge between satellite and farmer is not an easy task, but it is an essential and potentially profitable venture,” said Megan Nunes, Vinsight founder and CEO.

Farmers know how hard it is to predict yield accurately. High-value crops like grapes or almonds prove particularly challenging. Vinsight offers a yield prediction number with a 10 percent error rate on average, four months before harvest.

Descartes Labs offers a growing collection of global agriculture forecasts and intelligence

Descartes relies on roughly 4 terabytes of images from NASA, ESA and commercial satellites, and combine this with other relevant data such as weather forecasts and the prices of agricultural products. Using a proprietary machine learning platform, Descartes is able to figure out food supply with uncanny accuracy.

“What’s great about our techniques is that traditionally you have to talk to tons of farmers in the US to get a USDA-style number,” says Mark Johnson, founder. “With machine learning techniques, with us, we look at tons of pixels from satellites, and that tells us what’s growing.”

Descartes Labs is headquartered in Los Alamos, NM, and has additional offices in Santa Fe, San Francisco, and New York City, where you’ll find its supercomputing, machine learning, and image recognition experts working.

[This article is a part of our daily series ‘Future trends’]

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