Alert from FAA: DO NOT FLY UAS NEAR HURRICANE RESPONSE EFFORTS

Alert from FAA: DO NOT FLY UAS NEAR HURRICANE RESPONSE EFFORTS

Near Hurricane Matthew? FAA has issued an alert warning drone pilots not to interfere with disaster response efforts. Anyone who interferes with disaster response efforts is subject to civil penalties of up to $32,140 per violation and possible criminal prosecution.

UAS or drone operators supporting disaster response operations must be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prior to operating.

Read More
Comment

The robotic sensing industry is about to explode in 2017, are you ready? #colbyagtech @RupprechtLaw @droneanalyst

Farming around the world continues respond to the advances in technology.  Arguably remote sensing using small unmanned aerial systems as been the hot topic and for good reason.   

Recently I had the opportunity to join Jim Love from Becks Hybrids to discuss what we have learned using drones over the past few years during a webinar hosted by DroneDeploy.  The team at DroneDeploy has really done a great job educating people on the practical UAS applications without the added costs by using basic systems with just an RGB camera.  They had over 2000+ sign up to join this webinar, see the link below to watch the recording. 

If you missed this webinar hosted by DroneDeploy click HERE to watch it. 

If you missed this webinar hosted by DroneDeploy click HERE to watch it. 

This is the drone we talk about in the webinar to start with, FlyingAg's Phantom 4 Kit, $1890.

This is the drone we talk about in the webinar to start with, FlyingAg's Phantom 4 Kit, $1890.

Most importantly the Federal Aviation Administration has officially released the NEW Part 107 rules for commercial drone use.  Best place to learn is from my friends at Rupprecht Law, follow this link to learn all about it.   Please, get educated BEFORE you take to the skies.   Fact is simple, if you fly to make commerical decisions OR for revenue you need to have a 333 Exception or fly under Part 107 with a remote pilot license.  www.knowbeforeyoufly.org 

It's exciting to know that lots of great companies around the world are working at 110% for 2017.   Stay tuned for MUCH more. 

Here's the short list of just some of the newest technology, ENJOY!  

FlyingAg Matrice Pro Kit w/ Slantrange camera system.   This solution has infield processing capabilities, impressive option in 2017.

FlyingAg Matrice Pro Kit w/ Slantrange camera system.   This solution has infield processing capabilities, impressive option in 2017.

Sample of data set from Slantrange, notice the yellow box on the problem area.   (Thanks Bill)

Sample of data set from Slantrange, notice the yellow box on the problem area.   (Thanks Bill)

Left: Stock DJI X3 camera. Right: NEW DJI DJI Zenmuse Z3 camera with integrated zoom.

Left: Stock DJI X3 camera. Right: NEW DJI DJI Zenmuse Z3 camera with integrated zoom.

These two photos show the power of the zoom lens!   

These two photos show the power of the zoom lens!   

The new ZOOM camera will have lots of other uses... impressive. 

The new ZOOM camera will have lots of other uses... impressive. 

FlyingAg's Matrice w/ NEW FLIR Thermal camera. 

FlyingAg's Matrice w/ NEW FLIR Thermal camera

DJI Go App operating the FLIR Thermal sensor, LIVE view. 

DJI Go App operating the FLIR Thermal sensor, LIVE view. 

Great new kit from PrecisionHawk, which features DJI Matrice M100 with DataMapper software.  This kit has been well received from the guys using it. 

Great new kit from PrecisionHawk, which features DJI Matrice M100 with DataMapper software.  This kit has been well received from the guys using it. 

Priced at $10,900 w/ Parrot Sequoia Sensor, here's the new SenseFly eBee SQ.   Excited to see this along with latest software Atlas Software from Micasense (see below). 

Priced at $10,900 w/ Parrot Sequoia Sensor, here's the new SenseFly eBee SQ.   Excited to see this along with latest software Atlas Software from Micasense (see below). 

Example of imagery using Sequoia Sensor w/ Atlas software.   (Thanks Nolan)

Example of imagery using Sequoia Sensor w/ Atlas software.   (Thanks Nolan)

Can't wait to get my hands on this NEW fixed wing ship, released earlier this year at Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vagas the NEW Parrot Disco!   I have one on order, review soon! 

Can't wait to get my hands on this NEW fixed wing ship, released earlier this year at Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vagas the NEW Parrot Disco!   I have one on order, review soon! 

NEW recently leaked DJI Industrial ship called "Wind 1" stay tuned for more on this one! 

NEW recently leaked DJI Industrial ship called "Wind 1" stay tuned for more on this one! 

 

 

Comment

Central Illinois Ag names Chad Colby as General Manager

April 11, 2016

ATLANTA, Ill. –  The owners of Central Illinois Ag, Steven Schmidt, Michael Schmidt, Tim Evans, and Brian Reeser announce the hiring of Chad Colby as general manager effective April 11, 2016.    The current owners will continue in their roles. 

“This is a significant milestone in our company’s history,” says CIA President Michael Schmidt. “We are not a traditional company where the team sits in their offices; we’re out there learning what customers need and then finding solutions for them. Chad’s one-of-a-kind strengths in ag technology prepare our family owned company to serve our customers as never before. His knowledge and commitment will serve this business and our customers not just in the near term, but also for the next 20 plus years.”

“Agriculture grows and transforms through technology advancement, and Central Illinois Ag will be there to help its customers make the best decisions for their future,” says Colby. “I look forward to serving farmers through my work with CIA sales, marketing, parts and service.”

Chad Colby grew up on his family’s Central Illinois farm, always being the tech “geek,” and that has not changed, nor has Colby’s passion for and connection to agriculture. From tractors to technology, Colby has served farmers and growers with his expertise and experience.

He founded Colby AgTech, where he has worked with progressive farmers, leading companies and government agencies to provide deeper understanding and practical applications of new technologies.  Colby is a frequent contributor of domestic and international farm and technology stories to television show, This Week in AgriBusiness, featuring Orion Samuelson and Max Armstrong.  

Colby shares his knowledge and passion of agriculture by having one of the largest social media footprints in agriculture.  He is the industry-leading advocate for the use of unmanned aerial systems in agriculture. Twitter’s Commercial Drone Industry Group named @TheChadColby as one of the “20 People to Follow on Twitter,” where he landed in the number six spot.

Colby will continue to share his ag technology expertise through speaking engagements in the U.S. and across the globe, as well as through his social media venues. Chad resides in Goodfield, Ill., with his wife Karen and two daughters.

Central Illinois Ag, located in the heart of the Illinois prairie, is proud to offer the best products and people in the agricultural industry. Its full-service dealerships in Atlanta, Clinton and Farmer City, Ill., along with a parts and sales location in Mason City, Ill., enable the company to provide superior local support for today’s growing producers. From a one-man blacksmith shop in 1898, CIA has grown into an agricultural equipment powerhouse.

Comment

"2016 Starting Lineup" for UAS equipment in the ag industry. #colbyagtech #spring2016

There’s no question that Agriculture Industry is getting ready for a real game changing shift in remote sensing largely due to the reliable Unmanned Aerial Systems on the market today.  So many discussions about what the real value of Unmanned Aerial Systems will be to the grower, but honesty for the first time you can begin to see the “varsity” players breaking away in this industry as they are closing in on real solutions beyond the basic scouting solutions.   These companies have systems are currently being used daily around the world.   Over the past several year we got to watch them develop as the industry really begins to take shape. 

Your starting lineup “The Varsity Team”

DJI, in this industry DJI has become the “brand” people most recognize with drones.  With market share over 75% they are the big player and for good reason.   They continue to release amazing products that continue to set the bar for entry level and pro equipment.   We’ve seen the shift from DJI now to new sensors which will provide more value to agriculture. The new partnership with FLIR produced a new thermal camera solution combined with proven DJI gimbal to easily integrate into existing systems (Inspire 1 Platform).   Streaming HD video w/ great range via your iPad screen is amazing and is standard equipment. It should honestly be a must have feature when you consider your purchase.  Latest generation just released raises the bar even higher with great NEW features like:  live object tracking, better flight times, object avoidance and redundant flight systems.   

The best selling drone has been the Phantom Series from DJI.  Photo above a Flyingag.com Phantom 4 Pro Kit price from $2059

The best selling drone has been the Phantom Series from DJI.  Photo above a Flyingag.com Phantom 4 Pro Kit price from $2059

DJI Inspire 1 by FlyingAg.com flying citrus farm in Central California use the DroneDeploy system. This platform is nice largely due to it's ability to change sensors (like Flir Sensor below) and longer flight times.  It can fly 160 acres use the DroneDeploy system which is perfect in my opinion with current regulations (within line of site).

DJI Inspire 1 by FlyingAg.com flying citrus farm in Central California use the DroneDeploy system. This platform is nice largely due to it's ability to change sensors (like Flir Sensor below) and longer flight times.  It can fly 160 acres use the DroneDeploy system which is perfect in my opinion with current regulations (within line of site).

The camera on the DJI Zenmuse XT is developed by FLIR. It provides high-sensitivity (50mK) infrared scanning at 640/30 fps or 336/60 fps depending on the camera model.  Stabilized and controlled by a custom DJI gimbal, it provides smooth, clear imagery and 360 degrees of seamless rotational movement.

The camera on the DJI Zenmuse XT is developed by FLIR. It provides high-sensitivity (50mK) infrared scanning at 640/30 fps or 336/60 fps depending on the camera model.  Stabilized and controlled by a custom DJI gimbal, it provides smooth, clear imagery and 360 degrees of seamless rotational movement.

DroneDeploy, can’t say enough great things about the steps they have taken over the past year. For entry level users they created a easy one step integration with DJI platforms via an application for your iPad to operation your DJI platform.    The system completely controls the mission, camera and when your flight is complete it will manage your data.     Honestly it’s the best place to get started to understand the process of remote sensing.   Look for more things from them in 2016, currently daily they operate is over 30 countries and have proceeded well over 2 million acres around the world.    They will continue to move this technology forward keep your eye on them.

This is screen shot from Feb 2016 in central California, flown with Flying Ag's Phantom 3 Pro Kit.  The data from DroneDeploy has lots great information for the grower. 

This is screen shot from Feb 2016 in central California, flown with Flying Ag's Phantom 3 Pro Kit.  The data from DroneDeploy has lots great information for the grower. 

SenseFly, is a Parrot company and they have various platforms but the eBee fixed wing is simply amazing.   It can produce maps easily with it’s intuitive eMotion software which makes it easy to plan and perform you mission.  They also host a complete infield solution if you have limited internet service in the field.  Parrot owns other companies that play a key role in the solution offering like Pix4Dmapper.  For 2016 they have combined the eBee with the NEW Parrot Sequoia multispectral sensor.  Sensors are beginning to really develop for UAS use and this sensor is loaded with features, 4 narrow bands, RGP, built in GPS, and incident light sensor to calibrate the data.  Best part it it’s at a VERY realistic price point of $3500. Other side of this new sensor is MicaSense Atlas software which was in use last year and looked very promising.

Holding eBee w/ integrated Parrot Sequoia sensor at 2016 Commodity Classic, March 2016.

Holding eBee w/ integrated Parrot Sequoia sensor at 2016 Commodity Classic, March 2016.

The fix wing platform eBee from SenseFly is one of the most recognized platforms in the world, combined with eMotion software and the Parrot Sequoia sensor it will be very we received in 2016.

The fix wing platform eBee from SenseFly is one of the most recognized platforms in the world, combined with eMotion software and the Parrot Sequoia sensor it will be very we received in 2016.

Parrot Sequoia multispectral camera,  Weighing only 107 grams, Sequoia is a powerful sensor in a remarkably small package. This camera features four narrowband filters optimized for analyzing crop health and a 16 MP RGB imager for easy digital scouting. Sequoia's irradiance sensor and integrated GPS make it an accurate and calibrated tool for precision agriculture.

Parrot Sequoia multispectral camera,  Weighing only 107 grams, Sequoia is a powerful sensor in a remarkably small package. This camera features four narrowband filters optimized for analyzing crop health and a 16 MP RGB imager for easy digital scouting. Sequoia's irradiance sensor and integrated GPS make it an accurate and calibrated tool for precision agriculture.

MicaSense ATLAS™ offers a powerful data service for storage, processing, analysis, and presentation of multispectral data. Using secure cloud-based servers, your raw data is processed into actionable information that can be accessed from any internet-connected device.

MicaSense ATLAS™ offers a powerful data service for storage, processing, analysis, and presentation of multispectral data. Using secure cloud-based servers, your raw data is processed into actionable information that can be accessed from any internet-connected device.

PrecisionHawk, has been one the leading companies in the industry since it’s early beginnings years ago.  They have always been known for pursing the real value from the data.   Great to see them recently roll out another dimension to the information pipeline called Algorithm Marketplace. Called DataMapper, users are able to efficiently turn UAV-acquired geospatial data into actionable insights.   This is the real deal, they are already working with over 60 colleges and universities around the world.   Best part is this DataMapper will accept the data from any platform into it’s Algorithm Marketplace.   Precision Hawk is also developing LATAS (Low Altitude Traffic and Airspace Safety) platform connects leading airspace management technologies, such as sense and avoid, geofencing and aircraft tracking.  Recently they have announced an agreement with Verizon to integrate cellular into this system.  Move in the right direction if you ask me. 

DataMapper from Precision Hawk has one of the best suites of tool to analyze data that is out there.   Upload your images directly to them to get the required results. 

DataMapper from Precision Hawk has one of the best suites of tool to analyze data that is out there.   Upload your images directly to them to get the required results. 

Precision Hawk is also developing LATAS (Low Altitude Traffic and Airspace Safety) platform connects leading airspace management technologies, such as sense and avoid, geofencing and aircraft tracking.

Precision Hawk is also developing LATAS (Low Altitude Traffic and Airspace Safety) platform connects leading airspace management technologies, such as sense and avoid, geofencing and aircraft tracking.

Two new sensors from Slantrange

Two new sensors from Slantrange

Keep an eye on the NEW sensor package from SlantRange, they have the only sensor in the industry that does some processing in flight.   Looking forward to testing this package, which has an in-field processing solution without the cloud. 

Keep an eye on the NEW sensor package from SlantRange, they have the only sensor in the industry that does some processing in flight.   Looking forward to testing this package, which has an in-field processing solution without the cloud. 

Important to do your research, buying products from these varsity players is just smart business.   As the technology changes these products will hold their value MUCH better than anyone else.   They also have the support network and funding to continue developing this technology.  Fact is many growers are moving forward cautiously with these technologies due to so many missed truths.  

Trick moving forward is the actionable data, as we’ve now passed the challenge of remote control flight and now it’s all about the data.   These companies mentioned above are the leaders.   There are others big players in the market that make amazing equipment like: Horizon Hobby, Yunceec, 3DR, Trimble, AerialTronics, & Aeryon Labs but right now I don’t see agriculture as their main stream of business, or at least not yet. 

Needless to say, 2016 looks to bring growers around world more remote sensor technologies  and new software like we have never seen before.   Like many, I personally can't to get flying!    But I also looking forward to watching other companies developing NEW products for ag industry.  

Need information and guidance about using Unmanned Aircraft Systems in agriculture in the United States?  Review the website www.knowbeforeyoufly.org

Thanks, Chad Colby

 

Sensors for robotic aircraft will be the big story in 2016 #colbyagtech Parrot Sequoia Zenmuse XT

Over the past few years the big talk in agriculture has been unmanned aerial systems, no question about that.   But yet to really be proven is just how they will effect agricultural.   As the Federal Aviation Administration closes in on the commercial regulations, fact still remains how these new tools will effect agriculture past being a great scouting tool and providing some great aerial images very quickly at a lower cost than conventional options.    

The term “remote sensing” was phrased in the United States in the 1950’s by the Office of Naval Research by Ms Evelyn Pruitt.  Remote sensing is now commonly used to describe the science and art of identifying, observing, and measuring an object without coming into direct contact with it.  It’s all about detection and measurement of reflected or emitted wavelengths.

Source: Nasa, Remote Sensing by Steve Graham, 1999.

Cameras over the years have been mounted on everything you can imagine and will continue to be.  It all began with balloons, then aircraft and satellites, and now finally unmanned aerial systems.   It’s not to anyone surprise that new sensors are arriving now for unmanned aerial systems to be used specifically in agriculture.  (Yippie)

Integrated Thermal Sensors

In December 2015 DJI announced a collaboration with Flir Systems, together they introduced the NEW Zenmuse XT.   The first thermal camera solution integrated with a gimbal.  It uses a similar gimbal mount to similar to other camera solutions. This is designed to be used with the very popular DJI Inspire platform.  We have been flying this since it's release in Decemeber of 2015 with great success.  Best feature is that new camera is completley controlled through the DJI GO app, which provides a real-time, low latency view of what the camera sees and instant access to functions like:

·      Spot metering, temperature measurement at the mid-point.

·      Digital zoom

·      Single or interval shooting modes

·      Photo, video preview and download

·      Take Photos while recording video

·      Various cameras, all controllable from app

DJI GO App view of the Zenmuse XT Thermal Camera. 

DJI GO App view of the Zenmuse XT Thermal Camera. 

Pricing has not been released yet, but will be available in Spring of 2016. 

Have you seen this new thermal sensor for your smart phone?  Called a Flir One. 

Have you seen this new thermal sensor for your smart phone?  Called a Flir One. 

Advanced Imagery

Farmers using advanced imagery to help locate and identify problem areas.  Currently farmers have been using primarily satellites and aircraft.  But as we know the use of robotic aircraft offers some new of benefits and is going to change this landscape.  The remote sensing industry has been rapidly trying to create new sensors that would work specifically for these new robotic aircraft.  

Over the past 3 seasons we used many different single image converted cameras in various ships, with varying success. It’s important to understand that a professional multispectral camera is considerably different than single imager cameras.   These cameras use a blocking filter combined with the stock capture information in 3 wavelengths of light. Problem is the the they are a “wideband” and these are not nearly as accurate as a professional system.   Other challenges came from the integration of the necessary options to get the system to work property within the limited space of an unmanned aerial system.  Other issue we learned is the proper calibration is always a challenge due to cloud cover, time of day, season, humidity, and dozens of other factors.    Listening to educators talk about what they have learned over the past 20-30 yrs it seemed very obvious to me that a converted is ok to use, but not good enough.

A professional camera multispectral camera systems provide amazing imagery beyond the visible spectrum but have yet to be practically priced agriculture.   It’s easy to spend well over $15,000 + and that is just not practical in my opinion.   Last year MicaSense introduced the RedEdge™ camera and it was a great 1st step. Even priced at $6000. it was nearly 60% less than others with similar performance.    

Fast forward to February 2016….   #GameChanger Sensor Released? 

Here comes the next big step, this is the one that could really leave a mark, called Parrot Sequoia™.  This new camera uses very narrow filters just like the RedEdge™ camera.   It provides the characteristics which enable very accurate measurements of reflectance that converted cameras simply cannot match.  There’s lots to share about this new camera, so let’s talk about it.

·      Self-calibrated using the Sunshine sensor (BIG DEAL)

·      RGB camera 16 Mpx for scouting

·      High photo rate 1 picture per second

·      Independent from the drone

·      Standard protocol (PTP) for communication

·      USB powered

·      Compact size (same as GoPro)

·      Stand alone unit, able to work in various platforms.

·      Access data via WiFi & USB

 

Really looking forward to getting this new sensor in the field asap.  It will be available in March 2016 at retail price of $3500.   This includes everything you need to get going.  Wow what a great package for a multispectral sensor that captures both visible and invisible images, with calibrated data.   The Parrot Sequoia™ captures calibrated wavelength, green, red, red-edge and near infrared to highlight the health of plants.    

 Learn more at www.micasense.com


Over the past few years we’ve shown that robotic aerial can provide some value as a scouting tool alone, but adding these new sensors is the honestly first step to a tangible benefit.  

We'll cover the use of software soon as those tools are really becoming the next key to using these sensors.    In 2015 we had great experience using DroneDeploy and they have some products some soon also.  

Stay tuned for more information. 

 

Comment

What NDVI Drones Can Do for an Ag Business #colbyagtech @dronedeploy

What can NDVI drones do for my business? Part 1

Reprinted with permission from DroneDeploy.  January 24th, 2015

Misconceptions and advice from agriculture industry experts

There’s a lot of hype about agriculture drones. By AUVSI’s own estimates, the U.S. drone industry will be worth $82 billion by 2025, with agriculture generating the lion’s share.

Source: auvsi.org/econreport

For the most part, the hype is warranted — but there’s also a decent amount of confusion surrounding ag drones. Just try some quick Googling and you’ll start noticing trends; everyone is talking about NIR (near infrared) cameras, vegetation indices, and of course, the ubiquitous NDVI.

We’re going to attempt to answer the whyhow, and when so that you’ll be able to manage your expectations of what NDVI can (and can’t) do for you.

Why do I need NDVI, how do I make NDVI maps, and when do I use them?

To answer these questions and give insight, we’ve assembled four industry experts — a veritable pantheon of ag pros.

Let’s roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty as we delve into part one of our two-parter on NDVI, drones, and the agriculture industry.

At DroneDeploy, we’ve built some popular and effective tools for analysis of various vegetation indices, including NDVI. If you want to get started making NDVI maps today, you can sign up free at DroneDeploy.com

Norm Lamothe

Norm has been previously featured on our blog with the Soybean case study

Norm, a manned aircraft pilot, is one of DroneDeploy’s most active mappers. He mainly uses his AgEagle. All of Norm’s flights are focused on generating actionable aerial imagery. In his business, Deveron UAS, Norm flies drones as a service for growers and farmers — and business is good.

Farming runs in his blood; besides merely looking the part (he’s literally Mr. October in the 2016 Faces of Farming calendar), he also walks the walk.

It is extremely important to put your boots on the ground.

What is NDVI to you?

NDVI is not a new formula by any means. It’s been available to farmers from satellites as an entry-level aerial perspective for a while. It has been very easy to get into and produce. I think that’s why it’s been so widely used.

Ag Toolbox: real-time vegetation index analysis

What is the value of NDVI?

Where we see value is variability. There is always variability in all fields. NDVI highlights this variability and makes it easier for your eyes to see. When you can easily see variability, you can make quicker decisions.

What are some of the challenges with using NDVI?

One of the challenges with using NDVI is that you’re not always dealing with absolute values. When lighting conditions and cloud cover change, the camera lens gives you a value of what it sees but doesn’t account for the atmospheric change. If you fly over the same fields on different days with the same camera, you should get the same values… but you don’t. You’ll get the same variability but you won’t get the same numbers on the NDVI scale.

Because of this, it is extremely important to put your boots on the ground — every NDVI map should still be ground-truthed.

Thresholded NDVI map showing variability

What’s your advice to people who are new to using agriculture drones?

People see a relatively cheap price tag on a drone and think that’s all it takes. I come from the aviation industry. Yeah, $50k can get you a Cessna, but that’s just the starting point. There are hidden costs.

It’s easy not to see the amount of time you spend maintaining the equipment, all the hours uploading and manipulating the images, putting data in specific formats, or the regulatory side of things.

In Canada there are restrictions for operating and permits to obtain. You have to be compliant and safe to run a legitimate business. Be prepared for a lot of work, not just in the fields and at the computer but on the regulatory side as well.

Click here to read Norm’s case study, ‘Drones — a Soybean Grower’s Best Friend’

Chad Colby

Chad Colby is a complex guy: drone evangelist, public speaker, technology early-adopter, professional snowmobiler.

The son of a farmer and the husband of an agronomist, Chad does it all and has fun doing it. His garage of toys puts others to shame. But in Chad’s garage, the drones don’t classify as toys — they’re tools.

The power right now is in understanding your own field. Truly understanding it. Soil type, history — all of it.

What is your experience with NDVI?

NDVI has been around for a long time. Drones are a bit newer. Just three years ago we were so focused on putting a drone in the air and getting this NDVI image. It was all that mattered. Stick a modified GoPro on the drone, send it on up, and create the best image ever!

After flying, it took 15–20 hours to process the data. That’s what we did back then. These days it’s easier. We want to see the inconsistencies in our fields.

NDVI imagery processed from a modified camera

What are some misconceptions about NDVI?

I don’t care what NIR camera you’re using — it takes no account for the soil, the fertility, or other problems in the field. It’s just basing the decision off of the vegetation algorithm and imagery from that day. It’s not necessarily the holy grail. NDVI maps do not replace an agronomist in the field.

Are yield estimations valuable to a grower?

Not as much as you’d think. Guessing yield is not a critical or unknown component to a farmer. Growers have known how to do that their whole lives. They can take a small section of field, make a quick count, and extrapolate that across the entirety for an accurate estimation.

So what do growers want to know?

They want to know if they have problems on this 160 acre field today or can they move on to the next field and continue their daily routine. The immediacy of the data is what can make a big difference. False NDVI imagery from RGB cameras can even be valuable if they highlight inconsistency — it can be a huge time saver to quickly detect variance and then go to the spot and make a decision.

A DJI Inspire 1 on a mapping mission above a field

Any advice for those who are starting a new drone business?

Lots of people are asking how to get into ag with drones. Farmers and growers need to be able to rely on their service provider. You have a huge advantage if you can be at your client’s field immediately during, or after a weather event.

Stay tuned for Part 2

Want to get started making aerial agriculture maps with your drone?

Visit dronedeploy.com and sign up today for free—no credit card required.

Comment

Time for your farm's first robotic aircraft? #colbyagtech www.colbyagtech.com

Easy guide to get started.

Wow, who would have thought just 3 or 4 years ago that the use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) would be the next piece of technology to really move into the agriculture industry.   Speaking with growers around the world everyone is very interested in the future applications for agriculture.

Early reports are that during Christmas 2015 it’s possible that 1 million unmanned aerial systems (UAS) will be sold in the United States.  Some of these systems are being purchased for the farm, there’s no question about it. 

Are you considering buying a system for your farm? Know this your not alone.   Caution though, this is NOT like other pieces of technology you just power up and use.   Might want to do some research or get some training before deciding on which to buy and heading to the sky.

Best place for the latest information about what you can and can’t do with your new systems is www.knowbeforeyoufly.org

So you have made the decision “time to buy” what do you do?   It’s important to identify exactly what you are trying to do. Are you just trying to do some basic scouting or trying to fly 4000 acres per day?  Please proceed with caution and do your research.   Buying your first unmanned aerial systems (UAS) is unlike most things that you purchase.   For the most part, spending more money unfortunately does NOT mean more value or return on your investment.   Rule of thumb, today you can buy a great multi-copter kit for $1500-2000, are obviously more expensive systems but honestly it’s not the place to start in my opinion.  These systems today come ready to fly, complete with case, camera, batteries and everything else you need.   Just add your tablet or smartphone and you will enjoy 720HD first person view of what the ship’s camera sees.

FIELD AND FARM TESTED THE FLYINGAG PHANTOM 3 PRO KIT WORKS GREAT, BUT THE BEST COULD BE THE 720HD VIDEO FEED YOU SEE FROM THE VIEW OF YOUR IPAD (NOT INCLUDED WORKS BEST WITH IPAD AIR 2 OR IPAD MINI4).  WITH RANGE OF 1.2MILES AND BATTERY LIFE NEARLY 20 MINUTES THIS IS A VERY HIGH RECOMMENDED SHIP FOR AG USE.   NO OTHER UAS HAS SOLD MORE THAN THE PHANTOM SERIES OF SHIPS.  

FIELD AND FARM TESTED THE FLYINGAG PHANTOM 3 PRO KIT WORKS GREAT, BUT THE BEST COULD BE THE 720HD VIDEO FEED YOU SEE FROM THE VIEW OF YOUR IPAD (NOT INCLUDED WORKS BEST WITH IPAD AIR 2 OR IPAD MINI4).  WITH RANGE OF 1.2MILES AND BATTERY LIFE NEARLY 20 MINUTES THIS IS A VERY HIGH RECOMMENDED SHIP FOR AG USE.   NO OTHER UAS HAS SOLD MORE THAN THE PHANTOM SERIES OF SHIPS.  

If your mission requires a fixed wing there are several options also, there are good options out there but they are considerably more money for obvious reasons than a multi-copter.   But there are big advantages to fix wings over multi-rotors.  We have been using them for two seasons and they are very reliable platforms.  They also have the flexibility to carry many different types of sensors as the technology advances.

POWERED BY DRONEDEPLOY, AGEAGLE RAPID IS THE MOST DURABLE, FLEXIBLE, LIGHTWEIGHT, PROFESSIONAL-GRADE DRONE TECHNOLOGY ON THE MARKET. ELECTRIC-POWERED AND ENCASED IN CARBON FIBER, RAPID IS CAPABLE OF OVER 30 MINUTES OF FLIGHT TIME AND CAN COVER OVER 180 ACRES (300 OR MORE ACRES IN PERFECT FLYING CONDITIONS) PER FLIGHT MAKING IT THE IDEAL SOLUTION FOR DAY-TO-DAY IMAGE ACQUISITION FOR PRECISION AGRICULTURE GROWERS AND AGRONOMISTS.  

POWERED BY DRONEDEPLOYAGEAGLE RAPID IS THE MOST DURABLE, FLEXIBLE, LIGHTWEIGHT, PROFESSIONAL-GRADE DRONE TECHNOLOGY ON THE MARKET. ELECTRIC-POWERED AND ENCASED IN CARBON FIBER, RAPID IS CAPABLE OF OVER 30 MINUTES OF FLIGHT TIME AND CAN COVER OVER 180 ACRES (300 OR MORE ACRES IN PERFECT FLYING CONDITIONS) PER FLIGHT MAKING IT THE IDEAL SOLUTION FOR DAY-TO-DAY IMAGE ACQUISITION FOR PRECISION AGRICULTURE GROWERS AND AGRONOMISTS.  

Other thing you must consider during your process is to research the software and applications that really bring great value to these platforms.   Right now there are some amazing tools that really bring life to this technology.   We are talking about one click mission planning, automated flight, advanced imagery, 3D modeling and all from a multi-rotor that cost much less than $2000. 

Set your flight plan with a single click DroneDeploy automates the flight and captures all the aerial data you need.  There software does all the processing for you. Have your map ready to go in minutes so you start takin action immediately. It's an amazing tool that is currently being used daily in over 20 countries around the world.   

Set your flight plan with a single click DroneDeploy automates the flight and captures all the aerial data you need.  There software does all the processing for you. Have your map ready to go in minutes so you start takin action immediately. It's an amazing tool that is currently being used daily in over 20 countries around the world.   

Unfortunately without doing your research you could get caught in making a bad choice.     There are examples now of systems that failed, companies no longer in business, etc.   Remember this technology is moving REALLY fast, and just because you spend more does not mean you get more.

Watch this great video from the AMA, Academy of Model Aeronautics.

Also keep you eye on the future, because I can promise your there is MORE coming very very soon.  Look down below for a little glimpse of the future.

Need more help?  just ask

Chad Colby is the founder and principal of ColbyAgTech.com, where he works with progressive farmers, leading companies and government agencies around the world to provide deeper understanding of new technology and recommendations on its practical applications.  He is also well known for his industry-leading work as an advocate for commercial unmanned aerial system use in agriculture. 

twitter @thechadcolby

Future here already?  Stay tuned.

Future here already?  Stay tuned.

Comment

New iPad Pro is KING. #colbyagtech colbyagtech.com

Many growers today have ipads in the tractor cab, and this new tablet will be there for sure in 2016.

Many growers today have ipads in the tractor cab, and this new tablet will be there for sure in 2016.

My new tablet is not here yet (store were sold out of wi-fi/cell model), but I had a chance to demo one at Apple store and it was impressive as ever.   I ordered Apple iPad Pro w/ 126GB with wi-fi + cellular. 

 

Apple Store in Southern California 11/13/2015

Apple Store in Southern California 11/13/2015

So what’s the big deal about the iPad Pro?   Very simple, it’s everything.   Let’s review some of the game changing new tech in this NEW gadget from Apple.

 

SCREEN.   This new tablet screen is 78% larger than the iPad Air 2 with a large 12.9” Retina display.   And there is much, much more.  Screen has been completely resigned, with 5.6 million pixels and multi-touch subsystem.   Can personally report that is iPad Pro has the best resolution I have ever seen on an iPad, wow. 

 

NEW iPad Pro is impressive site sitting next to my iPhone 6 Plus.

NEW iPad Pro is impressive site sitting next to my iPhone 6 Plus.

PENCIL.   YES, Apple has finally added the Apple Pencil to its long list of new tech on the iPad Pro.   Briefly I had the chance to use this new Multi-Touch screen and let me tell you it's amazing. It's 240x per second refresh rate was easily noticed.   Notice the detail below in the text "Colby AgTech".

 

 

SOUND.   Size of this device allowed for 4 internal speakers.  These intelligent speakers even recognize whether the device is portrait or landscape view.  Major improvement in the sounds quality.  Noticed at the Apple store that many people were turning up the sounds to hear the new 4 speaker system.

 

HP.  Horsepower and wow does this tablet have it.   The heart of it is a all new A9X chip w/ 64-bit desktop class architecture.   What does all that mean?   It’s fast really fast, in fact nearly twice as fast as iPad Air 2 or 22x faster than first iPad. 

Best multi-tasking tablet ever.  Split screen w/ movie playing. 

Best multi-tasking tablet ever.  Split screen w/ movie playing. 

 

VIEW.  Graphics performance is another place you will expect huge gains.   This new iPad Pro has twice the graphic speed of iPad Air 2 or 360x more than first iPad.   Look closely at the image above.  On screen is the split screen mode with web browser and calendar open.  Also notice the movie playing which you can actually move/resize the movie to wherever you want it on the screen.  WOW.

 

And there is MUCH more, improved cellular networks and LTE bands, 10 hrs battery, faster wireless connectivity, and new many accessories including the new cover/keyboard.   The new Smart Keyboard includes a new type of connection which is very nice.


More you read about this new iPad Pro you can see it’s really for the higher demanding users.   With it’s split screen and all the apps that certainly will utilize this new powerful tablet all I can say this….

“sign me up”

I get mine soon and I can't wait!
Might be a little  big for a phone, lol.

Might be a little  big for a phone, lol.

looks great in the tractor cab!

looks great in the tractor cab!

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 11.30.51 AM.png
Comment

“Computers, why I prefer the Apple tree” @thechadcolby #colbyagtech

By Chad Colby

Facebook Twitter

Not 100% sure where to start here so I will tell my Apple story.  Back in the day, so early/mid 80’s after we all went down Commodore 64 road, I stepped in PC based computer systems.

Actually began a long relationship with local computer shop (who just closed in last few years).  Wow was it fun, along with farming Lou taught me so much about how you go about the operation of a computer system and honestly I was hooked.

From then on I was always building and using the latest in computer technology.  Even back then I remember on of our neighbors who had one of the 1st Apples I was really impressed.  But until 2006 (yes 2006) you could not put windows on Apple systems.   So there were LOTS of limits simply due to operation system.    Gamer computer operator users actually prefer PC based systems largely due to the amount of recreational software available for PC’s.  Simple stated there was just MORE software for PC systems.

There are several other reasons, lots of conversation is about security of Apple systems.  This quote says is perfectly  “a Mac owner who runs no security software is vastly less likely to be the victim of a successful attack than a Windows user who’s protected up to his eyeballs” [source: McCracken].

So more about my road to the Apple tree….   back in July 2007 was the date it began.   That is when the 1st iPhone came out.  I was working out west and remember driving 90 miles to get my NEW phone and have had the newest largest size iPhone since that they came out.

Wasn’t long to long after iPhone when I bought my 1st MacBook and the main reason was for video & photo editing.  It was an easy decision and to get the good stuff it’s pricey.  I paid nearly 2K for my system and you could by LOTS with PC laptop.   BUT I have never looked back.   In fact I sold my old system in Dec of 13 for $500 even and it’s still going today.   I replaced it will a completely LOADED MacBook 13.3″ in fall of 2013.

Next place on the Apple tree for me was the launch of the iPad in April of 2010, and ever since I had them all.  They are amazing tools at are literally used in ANY way you can you think.   Today there are over 850,000 apps, unlimited uses.  

Fun has continued, on with the desktop computers, iMac, had 21″, loaded 27″ and recently the new Big Guy 27″ 5K…. I have one word for you, just awesome even after one year it feels brand new.   They just released a new Magic Trackpad 2 and it's very impressive. 

The best buying tip for purchasing an Apple product, very simple.  BUY all the options, meaning largest amount of RAM, biggest hard drive, etc.  Why?  Because you WILL keep these systems longer than normal. 

Here’s breakdown of the iron in the stable now:

Phone: iPhone 6s + 128gb ~ Great new phone, the 3D touch screen and improved cameras are really a big upgrades. 

Watch: Apple Watch 42mm ~ Really enjoyed this new tool, real extension of your phone.  Lot of apps now taking advantage of the watch. 

Tablets:

  • iPad Air 2 128gb ~ had them all literally, and this new one tops them all wow.  Used 90% when mobile.
  • Ipad Mini 3, 128gb ~ Great size for using it for FPV during UAV work, seem to have some performance differences from iPad Air 2.  Just released the iPad 4, and that is EXACTLY the same as the iPad Air 2
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S 7", this machine is used due to no IOS app for DroneDeploy.  Works great.   

iMac 27″ ~  5K screen is amazing.  Use this in my work office to handle all video/photo work.  Plus it’s fully setup with Microsoft Office (they all are).   This was ordered with ALL options, and continues to be a great ship a year in service. 

MacBook 13.3 Pro ~ (working on it now & it gets used the most) It’s the machine I used when I need performance in the field and at home.  Just about two years old and will most likely be next machine to get upgraded.  

What's next?

Next purchase will most likely be a NEW MacBook Pro 13.3"  Current notebook is 2.8 GHz Intel i7, 8gb ram, 500 GB flash drive, replacement would be 3.1 GHz Intel i7, 16gb ram, 1TB flash drive, new features Force Touch trackpad and improved graphics capabilities.   

Also being released very soon is the all NEW iPad Air Pro, and this tablet is the REAL deal.  Not sure if I will buy one right away like I normally do.  It does show the future features of the next generation of iPads.  Yes this one is BIG 12.9" but it also has LOTS of new tech:

  • 1.8x CPU Performance (A9X) of iPad Air 2
  • 2x the graphics performance of iPad Air 2
  • 5.6 million pixels, highest-resolution Retina display of ANY iOS device
  • Reengineered Multi-touch subsystem 
  • Apple Pencil 

All systems are synced together with email, notes, calendar, etc.  and today more that ever things just work.  Seriously no weird blue screen issues, updates, etc.

When you do your research, you will learn that Apple computer really are more reliable systems.  Other nice thing is they have released some models are more reasonable in price.

Other products I use:

Final Cut Pro X

DropBox

Microsoft Office ~ Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, Excel

Apple ~ Pages, Keynote, Numbers

Facetime, Hangout, Skype

Social Media ~ Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, Linkedin, 

Upcoming will be post about all the apps I used on both tablets and iPhone.   

Online resource for latest in Apple info… www.macumors.com 

 

“Best coffee in town is at the Twitter Coffee Shop” @thechadcolby #colbyagtech

“Best coffee in town is at the Twitter Coffee Shop” @thechadcolby #colbyagtech

Twitter is the best coffee shop?

Read More