Questions Answered from Above

March 5, 2016 02:16 AM
Dry Corn

MAVRX platform offers unprecedented field resolution

The view from on high just got much clearer for agriculture through ultra-high-resolution imagery. MAVRX, a company at the vanguard of agriculture imagery, is using proprietary technology to offer actionable insights based on clear and precise aerial images, in conjunction with satellite and drone data. 

In January, MAVRX expanded access to ultra-high-resolution imagery through a 100-pilot network in 40 airports across the U.S. Farmers can request imagery and get results in 24 to 48 hours. Average satellite capabilities range from 5 to 30 meters in resolution, says Max Bruner, CEO of MAVRX. However, aerial shots from MAVRX pilots with nonvisible infrared spectrum technology bring resolution down to the width of a single row of corn for a remarkably clearer picture.

  Illinois farmer Steve Pitstick says MAVRX    imagery is more detailed than satellite      imagery—providing actionable data on   machinery, water flow and soil type.

Illinois farmer Steve Pitstick used MAVRX aerial imagery in 2015 and says the resolution is significantly higher. “I started looking at NDVI imaging in 2010 and used it for a couple of years, but it wasn’t very good. I’ve used satellite pictures by themselves and they were junk,” he says. “Last year, the high-resolution shots I got from MAVRX were excellent. I could actually see what was happening in the field.”

Taken alone, satellite imagery is sometimes unreliable due to timing and resolution, especially when farmers need actionable information. Satellite imagery sensors were never intended for agriculture use, Bruner says. “The cameras on our airplanes are specifically designed to pick up the fine-tuning needed for farmland.”

MAVRX cameras are tailored to specific crops, focusing on the infrared range for a sharp depiction of chlorophyll and biomass in a field. They measure the density and health of the crop, ideal for nitrogen applications, Bruner says. MAVRX uses a blend of ultra-high-resolution aircraft imagery, layered with available satellite imagery. 

Precision agriculture is sometimes plagued by data congestion, but the MAVRX platform strives for ease of use and efficiency. It’s built around four components: MAVRX Scout to prioritize fields after fly-overs; nitrogen prescriptions based on imagery; MAVRX Field Velocity to compare field performance with field history; and a one-stop shop for field data. 

Bruner uses MAVRX Scout to show the speed and simplicity of the overall MAVRX system. “Wake up and log into the platform to see a ranking of fields, with a number of alerts generated by the most recent imagery,” he describes. “This is the opposite of Facebook. We actually want to get a farmer off the platform and into the field as quickly as possible.”

The imagery process is fast, with the 100 pilots spread across corn, soybean and wheat states. Producers identify fields and request a number of images according to a date range, schedule or stage of crop. Once a fly-over is complete, images can be ready in 24 hours. 

“From the start, I could easily see the impact of crop growth based on traffic patterns of my machinery,” 
Pitstick says. “It’s a very easy process to get on the website and select the field and when you want it flown. It all took less than 48 hours.”

Bruner says MAVRX is aimed at farm profitability and variable input costs. “We want to provide vital information for input investment,” he says. “Is a yield bump available with the same input investment? Even better, is a yield bump available with a reduction in input investment?” 


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