SST Software, an industry leader in precision agriculture, will soon offer remote sensing services to growers and ag service providers in partnership with GeoVantage, a global provider of multispectral imagery.
The partnership will enable SST to provide seamless ordering, acquisition, and delivery of multispectral imagery across the U.S., Canada, and Australia. SST's software currently manages approximately 85 million acres of farmland across 23 countries.
Remote sensing is the science of obtaining data about an object from a distance. Since plants absorb or reflect certain bands of light according to their health, monitoring light reflectance with remote sensing technologies reveals zones of crop stress long before they are visible to the naked eye. This gives farmers and agronomists a head start on treating yield threatening conditions.
"Although precision ag practices are maturing in many areas, we see the utilization of multispectral imagery as one of the next big waves of site-specific farming," said Tim Riley, SST Business Development Director. "In-season imagery provides benefits for growers and agronomists in the areas of crop scouting, plant health assessment, nutrient management, identification of compaction zones, growth canopy measurements, mechanical errors in application equipment, and insurance claims."
SST will initially offer four-band multispectral imagery for red, green, blue, and near infrared along with a calculated Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) through satellite acquisition and special aircraft mounted cameras. According to Riley, the future of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) is exciting but the technology still needs to mature before it will be ready for widespread use. "At the end of the day, the acquisition model has to be economically beneficial to the farmer and easily executable on a large scale for the ag service provider," said Riley, adding that the partnership with GeoVantage provides the vital elements of rapid response and high-quality acquisition at an economically justifiable price point.
GeoVantage, a Massachusetts-based company that specializes in aerial imagery acquisition, has developed aircraft mounted camera pods along with guidance and acquisition software. Nick Morrow, Director of Operations at GeoVantage, states, "GeoVantage has been working closely with agronomists and agriculture associations for over a decade. What we sought was a partner who could merge our imagery with data layers within their agricultural GIS. SST has an established client base that desires imagery services, and they understand how to turn raw data into valuable information that will benefit the farmer. It's an ideal partnership."
Starting in spring 2014, ag service providers using SST Summit will be able to order imagery on demand. After specifying a time window, the imagery will be acquired, processed, and seamlessly delivered to SST Summit. "SST has been involved with the acquisition and testing of multispectral imagery for nearly 20 years," said SST CEO Matt Waits. "We are glad the time has finally arrived where there is a fully integrated, economically viable solution for utilizing the benefits brought from remote sensing."
In the future, SST plans on integrating the ordering and delivery of imagery products through its Sirrus iPad app as well as offering imagery services integration with other ag software applications through an agX Platform API.