What This Techie Learned from the Inside of a Cornfield
By Greg Rose, VP Product and Co-Founder
I’m an industrial engineer by training, which means I’m programmed to look everywhere for ways to remove waste and inefficiency from processes.
My career has spanned many industries, but always focused on one thing: Bringing new analytics products to market that help businesses solve important problems.
As a technology and analytics expert working in California, it wasn’t until embarking on this opportunity with IntelinAir that I got a firsthand view of the day-to-day jobs and challenges of farmers.
Now, as I’ve forayed deeper into agriculture, one very telling discovery I have made is that farmers, in their role as businessmen and women, have a mindset similar to mine as a technology developer and engineer. We’re all after the same thing—to make things work more efficiently.
Seeing it for Ourselves
No matter what industry you’re serving, I believe the only way to fully grasp the unique challenges and opportunities is to look at them from an end-user’s perspective. You have to put yourself in their shoes to learn everything you can about their processes, measure them, and analyze them.
So when my fellow IntelinAir co-founders and I decided to go “all in” with agriculture, we really went all in. We have immersed ourselves, quite literally, in the field, observing farmers’ everyday operational activities and learning directly from them about their greatest concerns.
We interviewed farmers in eight states growing everything from almond trees to strawberries to wheat to corn to soybeans. Riding around in combines, we saw numerous monitors collecting vast amounts of data. We observed areas of weed infestations, perhaps missed by a sprayer. From crop scouting on a four wheeler I was able to see for myself that small color changes in the leaves can signal nitrogen deficiency. We found parts of the field drowned out by rain and corn lodged over, perhaps by winds—none which was visible from the road. And seeing it there in the tractor and on that four wheeler, we were seeing it when it was too late for the farmer to act.
I’ve followed precision agriculture throughout my career and know the possibilities it has to bring greater efficiency to farm operations. But seeing these processes for ourselves made it clear that the level of efficiency—while much improved with precision agriculture—still had a long way to go before reaching its full potential.
It was through this in-depth, firsthand research that we confirmed our belief that our imagery analytics technology was a perfect fit for agriculture.
What Farmers Need
IntelinAir’s hybrid team of technology and agriculture experts is working diligently to deliver the most valuable solution possible to help farmers take full advantage of precision agriculture practices and get better returns on all their investments.
We already knew how to create the technology and apply it to be used by a farmer in a field. But spending this time with farmers has allowed us to see, in a very concrete way, the absolutes required to make it indispensable to them:
- Farmers need a solution that automates what previously has been manual.
- They need it to be mobile, convenient and simple to use.
It must bring greater measurability to the farmer than they’ve ever seen before, translating data from various sources into information they can act on.
- It must provide information in-season that can be an early warning to potential issues that could affect yields, and it needs to show what’s contributing to those issues.
- And it needs to deliver end-of-season reports with a finer degree of granularity than exists today.
IntelinAir has created an amazing solution that meets all of these absolutes. Through our AgMRI™ technology, we capture data through aerial imagery vehicles—primarily airplanes and drones, but also satellites—and present farmers with the most comprehensive analysis of their field than they’ve ever seen. IntelinAir handles all of the data collection and analysis, letting farmers and their advisors glean insight from the vast amount of data collected through agricultural equipment about soil, weather, seeds and chemicals. It provides farmers with automated field surveillance and data analytics that results in truly actionable intelligence about how to address problems in the field.
We’re proving the value to growers now through in-field trials. And we’ll be bringing it to market very soon.
Greg Rose has nearly two decades of experience launching innovative analytics products that make processes more efficient through digitization. His passion is applying data science to help solve the biggest challenges facing companies and entire industries.