Field-scouting drones have become increasingly popular in recent years because of the ‘do-it yourself’ ability to acquire high-resolution imagery in a short period time. Many growers and sellers, however, find that they don’t have the time needed to operate a drone or stay current on Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, much less translate the findings from aerial photos into tangible field data.
Welcome to Aker, a service that provides an option for ag retailers and farmers that eliminates the hassle of tinkering with expensive equipment and makes interpreting images a breeze. Their ‘turn-key’ drone directed field scouting application uses ultra high-resolution field imagery to supply crop health analysis and field prescriptions from an expert agronomist.
I have personal experience with Aker, as we utilize its digital scouting services at the WinField Product Development Center in River Falls, Wis. Their high-resolution imagery improves our field response observations by enabling us to record a number of different indices and outputs. Their quick turnaround time is vital for our research; they usually provide same-day imagery, which is far less than their target timeframe of 3 days.
The most valuable ag technology applications are often led by professionals who bring agronomic experience and insight to the company – such is the case with Aker COO and co-founder Todd Golly. As owner/operator of a 6,500-acre farm for more than 25 years, he’s gotten more than his share of mud on his boots. This translates to Aker taking a different approach than a lot of the other ag technology applications in the market. Many competing applications provide imagery, but don’t diagnose potential yield limiting factors or recommend corrective treatments.
I liken Aker’s service to going to the hospital to get an X-ray. The doctor doesn’t hand you your X-ray and say, “Here, read this yourself” before walking out the door. They instead point out areas of concern and discuss ways to treat the issue.
This is exactly what Aker does. When looking at high-resolution digital imagery of a field, their on-staff MasterAker™
agronomist identifies areas of interest from a lead generation standpoint. They specifically look for areas where stresses could impact yield potential so sellers can go out and meet with farmers and recommend treatments that will help correct these problems.
Aker offers the following services for fields 80 acres and larger:
- Residue Variability
- Herbicide Targeting
- Infrared Thermal
- Crop Establishment
- Plant Health
- Topography and Contour Mapping
- Crop Loss
Findings from each of these areas of interest are delivered via the AkerView™
mobile app, which leads farmers and ag professionals to the exact stress points in the field. This way they can personally inspect the problem areas and discuss potential solutions. Data and documented observations can then be uploaded to your favorite GIS, farm management or field prescription software through the AkerLink™
THE BOTTOM LINE
While Aker caters to growers and ag professionals alike, their offerings are geared towards providing relevant data to strengthen the seller/grower relationship. By leveraging scouts’ time and knowledge across more acres, sellers can offer a precision service with no equipment or upfront costs and prioritize their sales based on real financial impacts.