Monday, April 6, 2015

Tech Money Targets Agriculture

Wall Street Journal:

Farmers are starting to harness the kind of intricately detailed and up-to-the-minute data about production costs, speed and output that have become standard in many U.S. factories. Corn and soybean farmers in recent years started adopting such “precision agriculture” techniques to make better-informed decisions, and it’s spreading throughout the sector.
Thomas McPeek, for example, has adapted for Florida orange groves a laser-scanning technology used in architectural work to accurately measure every nook inside and outside a building. Positioned on a small truck that can cover 300 acres a day, a mobile scanning device developed by his company, AGERPoint Inc., analyzes how light reflects off trees to determine everything from the height and density of their canopies to which oranges or trunks are starved for water or afflicted with diseases or pests. It yields a map that some farmers are using to more precisely apply water, pesticides and fertilizer and treat ailing trees.
Harnessing more data, “we’re helping cut a lot of waste out of agriculture,” Mr. McPeek said. His company is finalizing an investment from a venture-capital firm that would triple the company’s staff to 12 people, he said. AGERPoint declined to disclose how much money it was raising.
It will be interesting to see what practical applications come from all the money thrown at agricultural technology.  We've collected a lot of data, but haven't used it much.  It is still obvious that drainage is our biggest issue, and I didn't really need much software to figure that out.

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