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ICYMI: DroneDeploy’s First Annual Field Day

A Look Back at What We Learned, New Releases, and the Future of Agriculture

Sat Mar 13 2021 00:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

Wednesday wrapped up by closing out DroneDeploy’s first annual Field Day. Field Day was an all-day event that highlighted the growing importance of drone data for the agriculture industry and provided insights into the growing seasons of the future. For those of you that missed it, we break down key takeaways from what we hope to be the first of many events in the years to come.

Opening Keynote

The welcome keynote kicked off Field Day and saw our CEO, Mike Winn, Head of Product, James Pipe, and Corteva Agriscience’s U.S. Digital Ag Lead, Jeremy Groeteke, discussed new product launches to kick-off the 2021 growing season. The keynote also highlighted how DroneDeploy is continuing to transform fields across the world.

One of the notable moments came when Winn announced Stand Assessment. In a new partnership with Corteva, DroneDeploy’s Stand Assessment removes the need for manual, time-consuming, inaccurate stand counts by providing an automated stand count workflow to capture and analyze the data needed to evaluate crop emergence. “In the same way, Live Map made real-time, offline mapping available to anyone,” Winn remarked, “Stand Assessment will enable offline, real-time, stand counts for corn and soy.”

Pipe went on to say, “With Stand Assessment, you’ll be able to cover 200 acres in less than 15 minutes, with an interactive map and PDF report available just after the drone lands – entirely offline. This results in a more than 90% reduction in the time it takes to conduct a traditional stand count, with the deliverable report and interactive map available immediately to text or email to your client.” 

Groeteke added, “With time being the most valuable asset we all desire more of, the only way to gain time is to be more efficient. This is where we see digital technology playing a key part in improving operational efficiency.”

The agriculture industry is in the midst of a digital transformation. This first-of-its-kind partnership between DroneDeploy and Corteva is changing the way agronomists, seed companies, and thousands of others in the industry are running their operations. 

How to Conduct Drone-Based Stand Counts to Assess Emergence

After the keynote, Field Day resumed with breakout sessions, further highlighting technology advancements in the industry. One of the most popular sessions of the day was one run by DroneDeploy’s Director of Product, Andrew Fraser, and Corteva’s Global UAS Compliance Lead, Eric Galdi.

This session dove deeper into the importance and relevance of stand counts – a process that DroneDeploy and Corteva have entirely reimagined. Traditional stand counts are time-consuming, inefficient, and inaccurate, and this session broke down how the Corteva Agriscience team uses automated, drone-based stand counts to revolutionize the way they assess emergence each spring.

During the session, Fraser broke down his thoughts on the new technologies influencing stand counts: “Anyone who’s ever conducted a stand count knows how laborious the process is. We’ve heard from hundreds of you that this is your number one challenge each season. Today’s best practice is a fully manual and labor-intensive counting process that still only samples 1,000th of an acre. Typically error ranges across a field are substantial, and manual counts require hours of walking and mental arithmetic in variable weather. No longer. DroneDeploy has partnered with Croteva to pair Corteva Analytics’ machine learning and deep understanding of agriscience with DroneDeploy’s ease of scaling drone solutions. Manual counting will be a thing of the past."

Galdi added: “We've heard countless stories from our sales and agronomists about how they used to scout 6 to 10 locations at 1/1000 of an acre, now they can sample 3 times more locations in the field at 100 times greater sample area all within 30 min."

Other details that emerged included how Stand Assessment mission planning allows users to quickly scan their field to capture the data needed for stand counts. Users can also customize their mission plan based on crop type, field area, flight path, and row spacing. And auto-enabled Terrain Awareness ensures consistent capture height above the crop canopy to deliver accurate stand counts for every field.

This is an exciting development for our partnership, but we’re also thrilled at its opportunity to revolutionize the industry.

What to Expect Under the New Administration: A Discussion on Farm Policy

Government administration directly affects farm policy, whether through trade opportunities, environmental regulation, or supply chain. As Field Day moved toward the afternoon, thought-leaders from The Nature Conservancy, Corteva Agriscience, and the American Farm Bureau Federation gathered for a multi-disciplinary discussion on expectations under the new administration.

The particularly enlightening session wove a tapestry of insights focused on the necessities of policy and action in the agriculture industry. Panelists included Jenny Conner Nelms, Senior Policy Advisor for Agriculture from The Nature Conservancy, Karis Gutter, North America Government and Industry Affairs from Corteva, and Andrew Walmsley, Director of Congressional Relations for the American Farm Bureau. 

Key topics included the intersection of climate and agriculture, carbon emissions, trade, and the need for swift policy changes to positively impact the agriculture industry. 

Conner Nelms said, “There is an immediate window to enact policy to put us on a better path [to reduce carbon emissions],” adding, “We need business leadership on climate change...We see it on the sustainability side, but we need to see it on the policy side.”  

Walmsley went on to say, “We need to answer the question: how can agriculture be the solution to solving carbon emissions? And the last thing we need is partisan ideas dominating the climate change conversation.” 

When discussing trade, Gutter said, “The previous administration basically rewrote the U.S.’s trade policy, so we’ve got a lot of work to do in this new administration. So we need to shift from a unilateral approach to a multilateral approach, so the question is: how quickly can the U.S. regain dominance in short order?”  

You can view a recording of the session here.

Something for Everyone

The sessions at Field Day ‘21 were plentiful and diverse, and you can catch any of them on-demand.

Some of the other exciting sessions included:

Tools for the 2021 Growing Season

There are a variety of ways to get value from drone data before, during, and after the growing season. DroneDeploy team member Kyle Miller takes the audience through them all.

Exploring Multispectral Imagery in DroneDeploy

Tools like plant health, stand counts, and terrain modeling enable growers and land managers to make informed decisions. In this session, Drew Baustian, Business Development Manager at MicaSense, walks attendees through specific datasets highlighting the power of multispectral imaging and the future of drone-powered vegetation management.

Piloting A Drone Program Within A Seeds Agronomic Service Model

Aerial data can provide invaluable insights when managing customer relationships throughout the season, but launching a drone program can be daunting. The Syngenta team discusses how they built their drone program to provide best-in-class service to their customers.

MegaTrends in Agriculture: 2020-2030

Dr. Kohl’s extensive travel and work experiences with a wide range of groups, including ag producers, agribusinesses, lenders, and corporate board members, give him a unique pulse on trends that will impact the landscape of agriculture.  

This session was designed to link global perspectives down to the business level and covered changing consumer trends, dietary trends, technology and productivity, global issues, international trade, the transition from baby boomers to millennials and generation Z, and the urbanization of global populations.  The saying, “think globally, but act locally” is critical for the proactive business person attempting to gain a strategic advantage.

Watch any of these sessions to see how technology is changing the growing seasons of the future. And thank you to all who attended, we’re all looking forward to a successful Field Day 2022. 


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