Friday, February 27, 2015

Monitoring Valley Crops By Plane At 3-Thousand Feet

FRESNO, Calif. (KMPH) -

Drones aren't alone when it comes to monitoring agriculture from the air.  A Fresno based company uses a plane monitoring system that captures everything ag from 3-thousand feet.

Hans Lambrecht is the brainchild behind Aerial Agriculture Imagery.  The former aerospace engineer for Boeing, Northfrup-Grumman and the Department of Defense dreamed up the concept while commuting to Edwards Air Force Base from Kerman.  He uses a small plane to collect data that is stored in a portable hard drive.

There are five cameras aboard the plane.  In a couple of passes over several acres of almond trees the cameras can give a grower a snapshot of everything going on in the field.

The plane is hardly noticeable because it cruises at 3-thousand feet.  Lambrecht says it collects visible spectrum images and other images similar to infrared. "We combine those together to give farmers a comprehensive picture of plant stress, nitrogen uptake, water stress and trend growth."

In recent months drones have been the darlings of aerial imagery in agriculture.  Lambrecht believes his system is better.  "We can cover a lot of territory than a drone can.  So in one day we can fly all over the Central Valley and make collections all over the area.  What that means is we can distribute those costs of operation to all of our customers.

Crop monitor will cost a grower anywhere from ten dollars to 26 dollars an acre.  It's all determined on the number of collections Aerial Ag Imagery makes in a crop year.

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