Future of farming: Driving farmer value through satellite-powered directed scouting
Sep. 20, 2021
By Shelby Parks
For the last four years, Planet and Corteva Agriscience, a global pure-play agriculture company that provides a diverse mix of seed, crop protection and digital solutions to farmers around the world, have been building and providing joint solutions to growers allowing them to more seamlessly monitor crop health and boost productivity. Planet and Corteva recently entered a new three-year agreement to continue building and implementing their joint solutions.
PlanetScope imagery of can help farmers scout for weeds, pests and diseases, as well as nutrient and water stress. © 2021, Planet Labs Inc. All Rights Reserved.
The collaboration began even before the formation of Corteva Agriscience and has grown in large part due to the collaboration and the chance Corteva Agriscience and Planet took on one another.
“If we look back at the beginning, the focus was about how we were going to create value for the agriculture industry together, specifically, for the grower. Today, we still have that same mentality that we are figuring it out together,” said John Davidson, Senior Director of Product at Granular, a wholly owned subsidiary of Corteva Agriscience.
To date, the companies have accelerated technology offerings side-by-side, working together and co-developing big ideas and visions to create a mutually beneficial relationship.
“It’s been about collaboration and that spirit of trying to achieve and create unique value into the agriculture sector,” said Davidson.
“It is hard to do what Planet is doing. There are a lot of hurdles to getting so many satellites in orbit. Beyond that, we have walked into this collaboration with a strong set of expectations. We have numerous use cases that echo our customers’ needs and have pushed Planet to meet the requirements for data to serve those use cases,” Dr. Christopher Seifert, Vice President of Data Science at Granular.
One of the ways this collaboration has grown is through the sheer scale of imagery Corteva consumes, here Corteva has played a key role in pushing Planet to expand its scale on a daily basis across all industries.
“We may not be the largest consumer, but on a daily scale basis, I think we are consistently pushing the limits of the scalability of the services,” said Davidson.
During this time, Planet has scaled not only its offerings but also the customer base as well, serving more than 600 customers and 200 partners, always keeping the customer experience at the forefront. This relationship has enabled both companies to expand as big players in each of their respective markets.
Through the years, Corteva and Planet have collaborated to optimize Planet’s products and data for the greatest output.
“We’re definitely maturing in the view of where Planet data is the best fit for much of what we’re doing. Research and development (R&D) has driven some of that, previous geographic expansion of the offerings has also driven some of that. It took us a while to get moving and really consume a lot of the Planet data and figuring out how to leverage it, and then it took off pretty quickly,” said Seifert.
“Right now, we’re using Planet imagery in Argentina, Brazil, the EU, Canada, and all over the world with some of our seed production as well,” said Davidson.
Since the Corteva team has shown the growers how to look at the data, the number of applications from the growers and farmers has grown substantially.
As a farm operation becomes larger or more geographically spaced out, the ability to see what is going on quickly becomes important.
“A lot of our farmers have many thousands of acres that they’re working with and they may be spread out over multiple counties. They’re trying to understand and figure out what to do very quickly. Both PlanetScope and SkySat enable growers to see what is happening and detect actual problems,” said Davidson.
“And this is what we do with our directed scouting product: enable growers to detect changes in their fields to help them understand what is going on and which ones to tend to first. Being able to go and be that trusted advisor for the farmers that they work with is critical. This is one of the tools that they must be ahead of the game. It allows them to use their time more wisely and pinpoint the areas most critical to look at,” said Seifert.
For growers, the most crucial data to pair with satellite data is historical yield data.
“Growers can see the differences in their fields versus where it was a few days ago or a week ago and determine if the field is historically high-performing, or low-performing. Having that knowledge in Granular® Insights™ is exceedingly useful as well as planted data. To know what you planted in various places and see if there’s some troubleshooting you can do. Every additional data layer that you can add to Planet data is a way of troubleshooting problems that you might be seeing,” said Davidson.
“You can look at Planet on one side and you can look at what crops you planted or even look at the historical harvest without ever stepping foot in the fields. It’s pretty miraculous just looking at all this data they have and being able to process it really quickly and understand how it all fits together,” added Davidson.
“We’re tracking large swaths of the planet on a daily basis to detect changes as quickly as possible. There are parts of the world that are exceptionally cloudy and so being able to pull different data sets together creates the potential for real value. Using fusion to fix those problems could open up some very productive parts of the globe for us,” said Seifert.
“Planet, with its innovation and setting up smaller satellites to get more frequent data collection, helps boost the ability to innovate and to help provide value for farmers in a number of areas,” said Seifert.
Through this collaboration, Corteva and Planet have maintained a strict focus on enabling progress in the agriculture sector. With this shared focus, Planet continues to expand its offerings to new and existing markets, making change visible, accessible, and actionable to industries across the globe.
Planet recently entered into a definitive merger agreement with dMY Technology Group, Inc. IV (NYSE:DMYQ), a special purpose acquisition company, to become a publicly-traded company later this year.
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