BOSTON (CBS) – With new technology, American farmers are learning reams of information about their crops and how ‘inefficient’ their farms are.
Farmers put a lot of sweat equity into their land and often the results don’t match the work put into the fields.
Part of the problem is farmers can’t get real time info on the basics.
Right now they don’t have a way to measure quality and relate that back to a specific area in the field. And without doing that, a lot of food actually goes to waste,” says Nikhil Vadhavkar, CEO of Raptor Maps of Cambridge.
Fresh from the renowned Y Combinator startup accelerator, Raptor Maps has unleashed a powerful tool for farmers.
“Using drones, we’re bringing in some predictive capabilities as well,” Vadhavkar said.
Which means farmers are getting some new and valuable insight.
“Right now farmers don’t have a good way of knowing where, in their field, the best produce came from,” Vadhavkar said.
Currently, farmers are kind of banking on educated guesswork. Drones using Raptor Maps software are not only loaded with information, but its impacting the top and bottom lines.
“This is a really good way to help them reduce costs, both for labor as well as inputs like chemicals and fertilizer, while increasing the quality of their produce,” Vadhavkar said.
Here’s how it works:
“At the beginning of the growing season, we measure how the crops emerge, which is the pattern in which they popped out of the ground,” Vadhavkar explains. “In the middle of the season, we use a different drone, where we look for diseases and insects.”
And then at harvest time:
“We’ve developed a sensor system that actually sits on the harvester itself. And that’s actually a computer vision algorithm that’s measuring individual crops as they are being pulled out of the ground.”
Raptor Maps is in test mode now, ready for a widespread launch next growing season.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Jeff Brown reports