Intelinair Delivers Ag Intelligence to Farmers When and Where They Need It
The results are impressive in an industry known for its razor-thin margins, explained Intelinair Director of Business Development Kevin Krieg.
"The cost for our service is equivalent to about a bushel of corn, but the payoff is more than a bushel of corn across the entire field in terms of boosted productivity and overall efficiency," he said.
Intelinair’s favored satellite image products are from the Pléiades 1A/1B satellites. Its main customers are agriculture retailers who sell equipment, seed, fertilizer, crop protection products, and consulting to farmers. The retailers typically bundle the crop intelligence with other offerings or sell it as a service.
"We help the retailers get insights into what’s happening with their customer fields, and that helps them build better relationships with the farmers," said Krieg.
Some of the most common field issues spotted by the Intelinair artificial intelligence algorithms are nutrient deficiencies, product performance, and overall crop health. Analytic services currently focus on corn and soybeans, but the firm is expanding into grains and oilseed crops.
The company’s success is multi-fold. The Pléiades satellites enable Intelinair to provide coverage repeatedly during the growth cycle over expansive geographic areas with remarkably precise results. The ability to pinpoint the exact location of a potential crop health issue or problem in the field benefits the individual farmer, while the ability to assess megatrends across an entire county or several counties gives the ag retailer a significant edge in serving its territory.
Another major differentiator for the Indiana firm is delivery of derived intelligence. Depending on the user’s level of expertise, the AGMRI platform lets them take a deep dive into field reports or just see the most important issues. The mobile app is so easy to understand, it is routinely used by summer interns working as field scouts. The app helps the interns improve their productivity by prioritizing which fields need ground truth and leading them directly to problem spots in fields that could be several acres.
Intelinair has been working with Airbus data for several years. The primary reason for using Pléiades 1A/1B data is the 50cm spatial resolution, which provides insights into crop conditions very early in the growth cycle. Not only is it critical to rectify a problem when the plants are young, but it’s also easier for a grower to maneuver the required equipment into the field and fix the situation when crops are small.
"In agriculture, there is a limited window to get into the field and address crop issues," said Krieg.
Just as important as resolution to the company’s efforts has been the consistency of the Airbus data from one Pléiades sensor to the next, explained the Intelinair Vice President of Operations Sriram Rapaka:
"You can’t train machine learning models without consistent data sets."
Since becoming a business partner, Intelinair has experienced the collaborative benefits the relationship brings. The company’s technical team has worked closely with Airbus to explore the applications of other satellite data, including 30cm resolution Pléiades Neo 3 and 4 imagery, for development of custom solutions for new or potential clients. Most recently, Airbus has teamed with the Indiana firm to obtain imagery outside of North America as it expands its market share worldwide.
The partnership has been equally beneficial to Airbus, explained Jen Kennedy, Senior Sales Director. "It would be difficult for us to maintain a staff with specialists in every vertical market served by our satellite imagery," she said. "Intelinair’s expertise in agriculture enables Airbus to deliver a level of service to customers that we couldn’t on our own."