PLANT-LEVEL INTELLIGENCE AT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE
Farming is hard! The sheer amount of variables to take into account, the changing environment and increasing restrictions on the use of chemicals. We believe a precision approach is needed on the plant level. Our mission is to enable farmers to implement precision agriculture practices by giving you access to precision data about your farm at an affordable price. What can you do with this data? Some examples:
Stap 1: Intake
Every farm is unique and every farmer an expert in what he does. We plan an intake to get to know you, and discover what challenges are most pressing. We don't want to solve problems you don't have! Together we determine a course of action: what kinds of data can you use in practice, and what are the expected savings? And of course, we give a demo of our system, showing what kind of data you can expect.
Step 2: The first growing season
You might be our first customer in your geographic area. That means that we've not installed a SkyHive droneport yet, and you and your farm can become a droneport host. And once you are a host, many farmers around you will also gain access to our drone service network - providing you with extra income for every farmer that signs up! During the first growing season we fly over your crop fields on a weekly basis. Depending on your needs, we focus on specific usecases, such as weed detection, precision spraying maps or plant counting. At the end of the season, we evaluate the effectiveness of the precision techniques applied using a variety of metrics. The key indicators: decreasing cost of growing or increasing yield amount or quality
Step 3: Getting smart
By flying over many fields, we are able to create large datasets of what healthy plants should look like. We train our machine learning algorithms to detect any anomalies, and report them to you. For example, using thermal images, we can determine when a plant is heating up, a clear indication something is off. Also, we are able to estimate the amount of plants per field, leading to more accurate yield predictions. This all leads to a per-plant passport, and helps you to react quickly to problems, before it is too late! As we get to know your farm and your plants better, the algorithm's effectiveness increases too.
In practice: The SkyHive at van den Borne Potatoes
Tective has partnered up with Van den Borne potatoes, one of the largest potato farmers in the Netherlands, to start fully automated surveying during the 2023 growing season. Using the unique facilities provided at Van den Borne, including a restricted RPAS airspace, this location provides everything needed to fully incorporate drone data for Variable Rate Application and disease detection. Together with AgroBots, a consortium of farmers, robot builders and knowledge institutions, the SkyHive is becoming an integral part of precision farming.
In March of 2023 we are aiming to start pilots in Flevoland, Zeeland and Brabant. During the pilot, which will cover the entire growing season (March to October), and will provide 10 precision scans of participating fields. These scans will include RGB (regular camera) data at centimeter resolution, as well as multispectral and thermal images. These images will be used for the following usecases:
· Counting of plants on field to determine emergence rates
· Individual plant passports: monitoring of plants during season on signs of disease (such as Phytophtora in potatoes) to allow for rapid intervention
· Biomass growth monitoring (NDVI index) to work towards variable rate application: saving on chemical usage
· Heat stress detection: using thermal images to determine heat stress in plants during periods of drought
Total cost per hectare per year (at least 10 scans) is will be around €150. We aim to service at least 100 hectares in a 10 x 10 km area for a pilot program to go ahead.