Mar 08, 2016

Opinion article: Is Satellite Imagery Better Than Drone Imagery?

Jesse Vollmar, CEO of FarmLogs, recently addressed the question of whether or not satellite imagery is better than drone imagery. He outlined six reasons why he believes satellite imagery trumps drone imagery in agriculture.

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1. Less time needed to acquire a signal. “A satellite has the ability to capture imagery for all of your fields in very little time. A drone can take over an hour to cover a single field,” says Vollmar.

2. No stitching required. “Satellites can provide imagery for an entire field in a single image with little distortion,” he says. “Aerial drones currently have a 500 foot height flying restriction. The result is drone imagery captures only fractions of the field and often with distortion.”

3. Imagery is georeferenced. When an image is georeferenced, it means that each pixel in the image has been processed to accurately represent the actual spatial relationship between two or more objects in that image. “So let’s say you purchase a drone that produces imagery that’s not georeferenced,” explains Vollmar. “It means that the relationship between your fields, your farm, various landmarks, etc. will appear distorted.”

4. No special license or training needed. “Users of satellite imagery don’t need a special license or training to use it,” he says. “Currently, the FAA sees all ag drone activity as a commercial use. What that means is in order to fly a drone, you must have a Section 333 Exemption from the FAA to fly. You’ll also need a pilot’s license.”

5. Quickly spot seasonal field patterns. “Satellites have been quietly taking snapshots of your land for years,” says Vollmar. “FarmLogs tools provide insights and recommendations using real-time images in addition to six collective years of historical imagery of your fields.”

6. More cost effective. “It wasn’t always cost effective for farmers to access satellite imagery of their land,” he explains. “But because FarmLogs has partnered with Planet Labs, we’re now providing satellite imagery to growers across the country for as little as 20 cents per acre or less.”

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