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Damage Report Provides Valuable Information After Major Crop Loss

DroneDeploy and Skymatics Help Grower, Seed Rep Assess Damage to Cornfield

When a weather event causes major crop loss in a corn field, growers, insurance adjustors, and sometimes even seed companies all have a stake in gathering as much information as possible about the damaged crop. But with traditional scouting methods, it can be difficult to get a handle on the extent of the damage. Drone mapping provides ag professionals with an efficient, accurate way to assess crop loss.

When he’s not flying his drone over the fields of central Illinois, Jeremy Jones of Overhead Ag earns his living building state-of-the-art classrooms and research spaces. “I’m a technology expert, not an ag expert,” says Jones. But over the years, he’s begun to spend more time on his father-in-law’s farm, and in the process, has learned a lot about the struggles farmers face.

Several years ago, he started Overhead Ag as a way to help growers in his community make more informed decisions about their crops. This summer, new Part 107 license in hand, he began to offer commercial drone services for hire to local corn and soybean growers.

Jeremy regularly uses DroneDeploy to map fields affected by crop loss. After the launch of the app market this past November, he quickly discovered the added value he gets from pairing his DroneDeploy maps with crop damage analysis from Skymatics.

“The ability to produce all of these requests through one platform is a powerful feature set. DroneDeploy makes that easy — the app store just extends that simplicity.” — Jeremy Jones, Overhead Ag

We caught up with Jeremy to learn more about his experiences adding Skymatics reports to his DroneDeploy workflow.

Agronomist Uses Drone Map to Analyze Crop Damage

Jeremy’s Phantom Pro 3 mapping a local cornfield

When a season of heavy rains, followed by several episodes of high wind, downed a significant amount of a 105-acre cornfield in central Illinois, the company that produced the seed hired Jeremy to map the field. Because of the extensive crop loss, the grower who owned the field had contacted not only his insurance agent, but his seed rep as well.

Wanting to take a deeper look into why the crop experienced such a significant loss, the seed company’s agronomist asked Jeremy to grid scan the field with his Phantom Pro 3, process the map in DroneDeploy and then export the data as a GeoTIFF. The plan was for the agronomist to overlay the map with other data, like elevation patterns, in ArcGIS and use this information for research into issues such as the possible impact of standing water in some sections of the field and the standability of different varieties of seed.

Wind damaged corn, as seen from above

Jeremy flew the 105-acre field in twenty four minutes, with one battery swap, using his Phantom Pro 3. He flew at an altitude of just under 400 feet with an 80/65 overlap. He usually tries to keep his frontlap higher, because it doesn’t take any additional flight time on his part, and he figures you never know when the higher resolution map might come in handy.

“I like to produce as high of a resolution as possible, because you never know what new technology is going to come out that will make that resolution useful.” -Jeremy Jones

Click to explore the map of damaged corn field

Skymatics Report Adds Value to DroneDeploy Map

As it so happened, just a few weeks after Jeremy mapped the field, he learned about the launch of the DroneDeploy app market, which includes an application from analysis company Skymatics. Jeremy was able to submit his map to Skymatics directly from his DroneDeploy dashboard and receive a comprehensive crop damage report. In a few day’s, he got a PDF report that included a calculation of crop loss and a categorized damage map.

“Having a report with a breakdown of damage, especially widespread damage, is huge.” — Jeremy Jones [click to tweet]

Jeremy was so pleased with the results, that he sent the report on to the agronomist. The agronomist appreciates that the Skymatics report gives him a comprehensive overview of the damage. He will use this information, along with the GeoTIFF, as he continues to look into the damaged field.

Jeremy points out that the Confidence Rating included in the Skymatics report is especially useful when delivering to clients such as the agronomist. Skymatics rates the accuracy of the data for each report based on factors such as the quality of the map and the presence of extraneous features like roads and waterways. Jeremy points out that this rating gives a further level of integrity to the report. “In the future,” says Jeremy, “if we’re out there for any field damage, this will be the default process: grid scan, Skymatics and analysis.”

Skymatics report detailing damage loss percentages (above) and Confidence Rating (below)
Elements that aren’t crops will automatically be given a low confidence rating. Red sections in this map indicate a waterway and a road.

Drone Map Gives Grower an Efficient Tool for Understanding Crop Loss

Although in this case, Jeremy’s client was the seed company, he also knew how useful a drone map would be for the grower, so he made sure to pass along to the grower a copy of the orthomosaic map he produced in DroneDeploy, as well as the Skymatics report.

Jeremy points out that information like this can be particularly useful to growers when going through the process of a damage loss claim. Ground scouting for an insurance claim entails walking sample sections of the affected field and extrapolating that information across the rest of it, so it is easy to miss large swaths of downed crop. “Unless you hit one of those downed patches, you aren’t going to really see the extent of the damage,” Jeremy says. A drone map, on the other hand, captures a complete picture of a field, giving everyone involved a far greater understanding of the damage caused by a storm.

“When you are talking about this amount of money that is going to be paid out or not paid out…I tell people, if your insurance agent doesn’t provide you with something like this, you should be providing it for yourself.” -Jeremy Jones

An Agile Platform Means Outputs for Any Situation

From a farmer seeking to be better informed during an insurance claim, to an agronomist looking to conduct deep analysis, drone mapping provides ag professionals at all levels with an efficient, accurate way to assess crop loss. Jeremy’s recent experience was no exception. He appreciates that the data he gets from drone mapping is agile, so he can adjust his outputs to fit the needs of each client.

“That’s what I like about DroneDeploy. The agronomist is pretty tech savvy, so he can use the map in ArcGIS. The farmer doesn’t care about all of that, but he can appreciate the marked up 2D. So there’s a use for everyone.”

And the new Skymatics report? Says Jeremy, “That’s like icing on the cake.”

Where to learn more

To learn more about the many ways drone mapping is being used by growers, be sure to read our recent post, 7 Ways to Use Drone Mapping on the Farm. Our webinar with ag experts Chad Colby and Jim Love, Lessons from the Field, takes a deeper look at drones on the farm. And if you haven’t gotten a chance, stop by the App Market to learn more about Skymatics and other great ways to extend the power of DroneDeploy.

Get Started with Drone Deploy

Want to learn how DroneDeploy can help your business? Visit www.dronedeploy.com to start your free trial or request a consultation with one of our team members. The DroneDeploy mobile application is available for free download for both iOS and Android devices.



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