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Southern States’ Imagery: New Programs for 2015

A program expansion with more options and flexibility

An imagery program doesn't just give you a picture—it provides  a guide to your field. Aerial images help to identify  areas of the field where the crop may be stressed by conditions such as weeds, nutrient deficiency, disease, insects, etc.  With this image as a guide,   growers can address problems early, optimize input investments and reach a crop's full yield potential.

In 2015, Southern States is expanding and adding new options to its imagery program, making it easier for more growers to take advantage of the profit-boosting technology of aerial imagery.

New satellite imagery

Southern States now offers satellite imagery. Dave Swain, Manager of Precision Ag Technologies at Southern States, says that customers have expressed a desire for this service. "Because the pricing is lower than aerial imagery obtained via airplanes, satellite imagery is a stair-step opportunity for growers to utilize an imagery program," Swain explains.

Satellite imagery provides growers with an essential tool used in precision agriculture. Satellite images give growers the ability to spot problems early. In addition, farmers have the capability to look at images from previous years. "Comparing images from year to year lets you look for any possible trends, which can greatly affect your management decisions," Swain says.

Satellite imagery does have a few limitations compared with airplane aerial imagery. For instance, it has a lower resolution, and depending on the timing, cloud cover could obstruct the picture. Despite a few drawbacks, however, satellite imagery can be an efficient way to begin an imagery program at a lower cost.

More control

In addition to offering satellite images, Southern States has also changed how it provides imagery services.

In the past, the cooperative had a "take the shot, take the walk" approach, says Swain. "If Southern States had provided an aerial image, we would also do in-field investigating to determine problems, trends, or whatever else the image revealed. However, in some cases, that field service was not needed as farms had individual crop scouts qualified to examine the photo."

Now, Southern States offers both services: images with consultation, and images without. "We set up a pricing structure for just taking an image and giving it to the customer," Swain says. "Having more options helps fit our  customers' individual needs and operations."

UAV update

When it comes to aerial images, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are a hot topic in agriculture. With the new emphasis from the federal government to enact UAV regulations, the need to know how to best enter this market becomes even more important.

"Southern States is very active in looking at UAVs," Swain says. "We definitely want to offer the service to our customers, and, once the  regulations are fully in place, we will add this exciting technology to the imagery programs that we already have available.  We have become even more aggressive in the exploration for the best opportunities to use UAV's in our Agronomy Technology program.  Southern States is taking the steps to implement this technology when we are fully prepared to provide the imagery services that will exceed our customers' expectations."

New solutions

With new options and flexibility, the Southern States imagery program could be the solution you are looking for in your farming operation. For additional information on the program, please consult your local Southern States Agronomy professional.

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