There's no question that farming will be getting more data intensive as we get better at collecting data and information for the future. The latest indication of that is news this week that Bayer is teaming up with an aerospace company to develop applications and products based on satellite imagery.
Planetary Resources, the new partner, is based in Redmond, Washington and a visit to its site shows the company is involved in a wide range of space-based enterprises - even asteroid mining. Yes, I said asteroid mining, which is still a ways off but they're working there.
However, that work also means they can crunch the numbers on key issues related to land-based data that can be collected from space too. In Bayer's release announcing the new partnership, Liam Condon, head of the Crop Science Division, comments: "The sensors from Planetary Resources can become a powerful tool that can provide a new level of information on crops anywhere in the world. The combination of Bayer's scientific and agronomy expertise and Planetary Resources' unique sensor capability will greatly improve our ability to deliver truly practical intelligence to growers anywhere on the planet."
Planetary Resources works with the Ceres platform to capture land-based information using a range of space-based sensors to capture imagery even at night. The Ceres system is "an advanced Earth imaging business using Planetary Resources' Arkyd 100 spacecraft" according to the company website.
Space-based data gathering isn't new, but the level of precision available from the latest satellites, along with improved computer analysis on the ground is advancing the technology faster than in the past. Planetary Resources CEO Chris Lewicki, notes that his company identified Bayer as a prime partner "in the agriculture industry based on their expertise in several fields and anticipate that this collaboration will accelerate technology deployment, product development and market acceptance."
Planetary Resources is already gathering data and will work with Bayer to accelerate Research and Development in the area. Bayer also "intends to provide farmers all over the world with practical decision-making aids based on the precise evaluation and combination of diverse data," the release reports.
Eyes in the sky have different uses and improved sensors capture more information than ever before. Satellite-based information gathering continues to improve too. And while Unmanned Aerial Vehicles will create improved imagery capability on a lot of levels, increasingly precise satellites are game changers too.
Bayer is already at work on digital farming systems for use on the farm. They website digitalfarming.bayer.com outlines some of the work, including a management tool currently in beta test.
We've seen nearly every major company get into the data business in the past five years, Bayer is upping the ante with the Planetary Resources arrangement, which offers interesting data potential for the future. We'll keep you posted.