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Increasing Mission Success for Reliable Data Collection
| January 10, 2023 |
PHX flight services blog post

Collecting efficient and precise data about crop health and performance serves as an important factor for many leaders in research and product development. But often times that’s not enough – there also needs to be a focus on reliability.  

After all, how good is data if you aren’t able to know that it truly depicts what is happening at the field level? Or whether you can compare it to key changes in the field, either within the season or from season to season?  

Historically, agronomic leaders have relied on boots-on-the-ground labor to capture essential data points about plant growth. While this still serves as an important way to understand what’s happening on the field, labor and supply chain issues has made it harder to capture this data.

And that’s where ag technology (specifically drones and sensors) steps in. Leveraging ag drones and sensors results in reliable data collection 25% faster than manual methods. This allows you to spend time on what matters: analyzing data to power critical decisions.  

Not only do ag drones and sensors boost efficiency in collecting data, but they also reduce human error and data variability. And when it comes to research in general, having precise and accurate data is crucial in validating outcomes.  

 

Building off Past Years Challenges: Planning Reliable Data Collection  

What performed well last year? What are some improvements to make for this year? What do you wish you had used in the past? Year over year field performance analyses help with formulating plans that highlight what has worked and what flopped in the past.  

In the past few years, we have been dealing with a significant labor shortage – resulting in manual data collection becoming more difficult than ever. It is getting harder to find sufficient help with boots-on-the-ground data collection. Ag technology works to combat the labor shortage by offering more reliable data collection, faster than manual components.  

The labor shortage has dwindled the amount of time agronomic leaders have to do really anything. Without other workers, more people are juggling multiple projects and responsibilities – making time for data collection extremely limited. There simply is not enough time to manually collect data, sort through, and then analyze it. Ag drones and sensors have transformed data collection by providing faster, more reliable data collection for agronomic leaders. 

Planning also incorporates scheduling out flights to ensure you’re getting exactly what you need, when you need it. Time is of the essence, and we all know how important even a day is in agriculture. With changes in growth, weeds, crop health, and other factors, it is necessary that you collect data in a timely manner in order to indicate potential issues that need to be addressed before it is too late. 

 

The Capabilities of Your Ag Drone System: Know What You’re Flying 

Every mission, plot, operation, and person have unique needs that impact what ag drone system is best equipped to accommodate. And when you or your company’s pilot are flying the area themselves, knowing what your drone and sensor have to offer is critical in reliable data collection efforts.   

Leveraging and keeping up with ag technology can be difficult when you are unsure of different hardwares’  unique specializations. When determining the right drone and sensor for you it’s essential to consider these factors: 

  • Plot size, multirotor vs. fixed-wing drones depend on the number of acres being covered  
  • Time of year, crop growth can obstruct certain sensors and divert you from getting the data needed for mid to late-season analysis 
  • Goals, different systems do better in crop scouting vs. in research and development 

If your system isn’t calibrated appropriately for your needs, you are not going to be able to capture the data needed to validate outcomes and power critical decisions. With products such as multispectral indices, NDRE vs. NDVI comes down to the time of the year and what you are looking for. NDVI isn’t as effective with thicker canopy covers as seen in late-season crop growth. So being aware of the capabilities of your ag drones and sensors is mandatory if you are seeking precise and reliable data collection.  

Leveraging ag technology also offers the ability to repeat and replicate data collection without the subjectivity of manual methods. Ag drones and sensors provide objective data that is documented through aerial imagery and not just by word of mouth. With research trials the ability to replicate data collection offers more controlled variables to validate results. But without the knowledge of each part of your ag drone system, you are at risk for inconsistent and unusable data.  

 

Ensure Reliable Data Collection with Flight Services

And if you don’t have the time or resources to fly yourself, let us do the flying for you.  

Capturing data at the right time serves as imperative for agriculture – after all, plant growth continues to change. That being said, there’s often little to no room for error. Delays or even flights that don’t go as planned can significantly impede research or even grower relationships.

Sentera’s Flight Services provides the option for agronomic leaders to hire trained pilots to capture data for them. This allows you to get the data you need without owning, flying, or managing a drone. And, with over 250 trained pilots operating around the world, more agronomists have access to fast, reliable data collection. Our team is equipped and experienced to obtain the imagery and data needed for successful analysis and valuable insights while saving you time, money, and resources.   

With an over 98% success rate, you can rely on a successful mission each and every time. Timing is everything when it comes to data collection; even days can make a difference, so you don’t want to miss your window of opportunity. 

By leveraging Flight Services, the team maps out a flight plan and executes it for you – saving you time to focus on what matters more: validating outcomes and critical decision-making.  

Interested in learning more? Get a deeper look at key measurements and tools available for researchers and product development in our eBook, “High-Throughput Trial & Performance Characterization Analytics Overview."
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