Apr 29, 2020Valley Irrigation expanding AI-based crop monitoring to areas of Idaho, Washington
Valley Irrigation and Prospera Technologies announced April 29 they are expanding their artificial intelligence-based crop monitoring and detection service: Valley Insights, to commercial growers in select areas of Washington, Texas, Nebraska and Idaho, quadrupling the coverage area in 2020.
The companies are also beginning U.S.-based tests of new anomaly detections and continuing trials of the industry’s first sensor-equipped irrigation machines, the next step in their roadmap to turn existing irrigation infrastructure into autonomous connected machines.
“The speed and success of Valley Insights has been incredible,” said Darren Siekman, VP of Business Development at Valley Irrigation. “The initial trials of Valley Insights last fall demonstrated that the service delivers actionable insights that help growers reduce inputs and improve yields. We worked closely with growers to incorporate their feedback and develop the next generation of the service for this broader commercial roll-out. This is going to give more growers the opportunity to improve their bottom lines.”
Valley Insights acquires and analyzes data from imagery to pinpoint areas of fields that may have anomalies. The system can detect irrigation machine issues, over- or under-watered areas and other issues. Valley Insights then alerts growers to the problem areas so they can take crop-saving action.
Eric Williamson of Williamson Farm in Quincy, Washington, estimated he could have saved $25,000 if he had applied the technology to all of his fields, instead of just the test field.
“Valley Insights sent me a text message when it found an anomaly, and I could see exactly which area it identified as a problem and take action immediately,” Williamson said. “With other services we’ve used that provide aerial or satellite photos, we’ve had to sift through them ourselves and attempt to identify issues. Valley Insights does that for us, pointing out issues before I could have caught them.”
Trials of additional capabilities, including weed and nutrient detection, will take place in certain areas of Washington, Texas, Nebraska and Idaho this spring.
In addition to expanding commercial availability of their Valley Insights service, Valley and Prospera are conducting field tests of close-proximity data collection in Washington, Idaho, Nebraska and Kansas, using sensors mounted on Valley irrigation machines. Located just a few meters above the plants, the sensors collect very high-resolution images day and night — capturing significantly greater detail than drone, aerial or satellite imagery can provide.
“Data is key to a more productive and sustainable food system, but the cost of collecting high-quality data in agriculture has been prohibitive,” said Prospera CEO Daniel Koppel. “By combining our industry-leading computer vision and A.I. technology with the leading tech-enabled infrastructure of Valley Irrigation, we’re reducing the cost of data acquisition, increasing the speed of deployment of new technologies, and delivering real value to growers.”
“The initial trials of on-pivot sensors will gather high-value data sets in the world’s largest tech lab. Our goal is to acquire knowledge this season, fine-tune the offering for 2021, and roll it out to complement existing aerial and satellite imagery,” explained Koppel. “This advancement will provide the most complete picture of plant health in the industry.”
The on-pivot sensors are a key step in the companies’ combined vision to transform existing large-scale equipment into autonomous connected machines that independently acquire and analyze plant data and take action to address irregularities at the plant level.
Valley Insights can be accessed via Valley 365, a secure, next-level platform for connected crop management. It combines the best features of Valley remote technology solutions into a single sign-on platform and harnesses real-time data from three key areas of the ag ecosystem: equipment, environment and agronomy.