Testing the Future of Agriculture
Kyle Morrow, IN10T’s Lead Precision Agronomist, is always looking to push the agronomy process to the next level. One area that Kyle often studies is the use of field tools that can help with data collection. Kyle recently spent time with the Sentera drone app coupled with his DJI Phantom 4 Pro to better understand the positive applications it could have on agronomic trials..
Kyle tested the Sentera app at one of our IN10T Research Farms in Northwest Indiana. He was focused primarily on determining if the app would serve well as a replacement for time consuming stand counts, as well as to collect some visual imagery of the field. As he approached the research farm and began to set up his equipment, he noted the ease of connecting the app to his drone. Kyle notes that the app and the drone were relatively painless to set up and pair, making it easy for him to begin collecting data. The Sentera app uses the camera and sensors already attached to his drone, so for the stand count feature there was no need to purchase any outside equipment or subscriptions. The value in being able to run a test with a product while not needing extensive outside resources was also a positive Kyle noted throughout his testing.
In Field Test
The stand count feature Kyle tested immediately demonstrated effectiveness. He flew the field at 50 feet of elevation with the camera taking photos every couple of hundred feet. The photos were uploaded to the Sentera web app and analyzed. A stand count was provided based on the results. Kyle was then able to view the file on the desktop version of the app and determine if any areas had either been missed, or were counted incorrectly.
The benefits extended beyond the ability to view counts within the web app. By scanning the entire field Sentera provides a more relatively accurate view of the field stand than traditional on the ground counting methods. The counts better reflected the condition of the field as a whole because it could identify areas of environmental or pest damage.
Overall, Kyle came away from the test with a positive impression of the Sentera app. He noted the benefits of being able to complete a field-wide stand count with efficiency and the ease of integration with his Phantom 4 drone. Kyle did identify three areas where he would like to see Sentera make some updates.
- First, any field or farm map has to be added through the website rather than through the mobile app. In the future he would like to see the possibility of adding farms through the app to speed up the process.
- Second, the visual interface of the app was clean, however he could see some benefits with even more focus on making it easy to navigate and use.
- Finally, recent updates to iPad software has led to increased machine learning capabilities in both the iPad Pro and the recently announced iPad Air. Kyle would like to see this extra power used to provide field side processing of stand counts instead of having to upload to the web app.
These small improvements would certainly upgrade the experience, however Kyle found the app to be incredibly useful overall and is going to look at implementation of Sentera into IN10T’s agronomy practices. He sees a tremendous benefit in the use of apps like Sentera to create a more reliable, efficient, and innovative data collection process.
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