Precision Agriculture-The New Era

Precision agriculture is a technique that many farmers use to monitor and manage their crops throughout the growing season and between seasons. Some of the traditional techniques involve physically counting individual seedlings, soil testing, plot-height sampling and using historical yield information. As agriculture technology progresses we are seeing more sophisticated tools and equipment, such as the GPS-enabled fertilizer spreader, which can distribute variable densities of material based on a preprogramed map or the automatic soil sampler, which collects important soil information at a user-defined rate and converts it to a digital map layer to be used for analysis. Farmers are constantly looking for ways to increase biomass and crop yields. A good friend of mine always says, “everything happens on a map,” and such is the case in agriculture.

The agriculture market is one to keep an eye on for those of us in the mapping business. For any farmer, optimizing crop yield is the primary goal, but the ability to identify potential issues as quickly as possible is vital to the success of any annual crop (or any natural resource for that matter). With more and more levels of geospatial data becoming available; satellite, traditional aerial photography, unmanned data collection and even ground-based sampling and data, the door for more frequent monitoring of specific metrics such as growth rates, precipitation amounts, mineral deficiencies and other agricultural stressors is wide open. As higher spatial and spectral resolutions, coupled with more frequent data collection capabilities become available, the ability to count individual crops and monitor them on an individual basis will become the norm for managing our agricultural assets.

So what does Woolpert have to offer in this arena, you ask? …Actually, a lot. Woolpert has numerous staff familiar with analyzing and mining different sensor data. We offer multiple tools for acquiring ground-based and airborne data at extremely high resolutions, our latest investment being our Altavian UAS, which is capable of capturing photography at resolutions as high as +/- 1 centimeter. Woolpert also has an experienced surveying crew that can perform ground truthing, control and support for any of our airborne or ground-based data collections.

Data processing, remote sensing and web deployment, such as SmartView Connect, are three other areas where I see Woolpert being able to step in and bring mapping accuracies to any company or individual who has a desire to perform their own data collections. While soon enough people will be able to fly their own UAS for aerial photography, making it an accurate map is a different story; our experience and our know-how in being able to process, mine it for additional information and post it to the web for consumption will be a necessary service for anyone needing to bring accuracy to their data and share it.


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