Recommendations on mapping equipment and software for future agriculture survey business.

Joined
Jul 15, 2016
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
Age
31
Hey y'all, just got my solo in the mail last week and I love it! With the new Part 107 rules coming into effect soon, there is a real opportunity to get a jump start in agriculture surveying in my area with UAV's. I've done some research here on google and here on the forums and I apologize if this relates to a post in the past, but I'm looking for someone who has, or is, doing agriculture type mapping and surveying to give me some guidance on mapping software and equipment and maybe an estimate on total costs to get me going. I have seen the Mapir ads here on the forum and have seen some people using a program called tower? Basically, I want to fly over some crops and be able to tell what areas of the field are healthier compared to others, what areas could use more or less fertilizer, detect disease and insect infestations, what needs more water than others, and so on. I don't really know what cameras I need, or if I need them all, like the cameras Mapir provides for example. I've seen the program called Site Scan that 3DR provides, but I've also noticed the hefty subscription price tag that comes with it as well. Can someone help me out? Thanks!!
 
Joined
Jun 13, 2016
Messages
5
Reaction score
2
Age
24
I would recommend using Tower to fly your surveys with a NDVI Red+NIR Survey 2 camera from Mapir. Agribotix is the easiest way to produce a geotagged image. Its all automated, requires little know-how. Agriboitx's FarmLens Uploader will geotag your photos and upload them onto their server. The photos will be stitched on their server. The Pro subscription more than likely will be needed.
 
  • Like
Reactions: condor1
Joined
Jun 28, 2016
Messages
4
Reaction score
1
Age
57
Agflier, are there currently any IOS apps that have a similar feature set comparable with Tower? Anything even close?
 
Joined
Jun 13, 2016
Messages
5
Reaction score
2
Age
24
None that I've actually used. Check out the Pix4D app and Drone Deploy. I'm sure someone on here has experience with these?
 
Joined
Aug 24, 2015
Messages
4,255
Reaction score
1,214
Location
Phoenix, Az
Agflier, are there currently any IOS apps that have a similar feature set comparable with Tower? Anything even close?
Several months ago, somebody on here was testing an iOS app that was very similar to Tower. The app was about $12 at the App Store. I can't remember who it was or the name of the app but I'm still searching.
Hopefully they will chime in.:D
 
Joined
May 31, 2016
Messages
3
Reaction score
1
Age
52
I think the iOS app you're looking for is MAV Pilot. I haven't used it so can't really speak to how well it performs. I'm primarily a Mac / iOS user, but ultimately ended up picking up an nVidia Shield to use as a dedicated tablet form my Solo - mostly so I can run Tower. Unfortunately I've been sidelined by other priorities and haven't had a chance to play around with it yet.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Maddog
Joined
Jun 14, 2015
Messages
1,553
Reaction score
837
Age
121
I think the iOS app you're looking for is MAV Pilot. I haven't used it so can't really speak to how well it performs. I'm primarily a Mac / iOS user, but ultimately ended up picking up an nVidia Shield to use as a dedicated tablet form my Solo - mostly so I can run Tower. Unfortunately I've been sidelined by other priorities and haven't had a chance to play around with it yet.
Yes. It's mav pilot.
 
Joined
Jun 2, 2015
Messages
80
Reaction score
17
Location
Texas
Agribotix is the easiest way to produce a geotagged image. Its all automated, requires little know-how.

I'm guessing many people will disagree with me, but I don't see the Ag market as being very good for a service provider. As Agflier pointed out, it's getting pretty easy such that almost anyone can do it. Because of this, I think within the next 2 years, many of the farmers who are actually interested in this type of data will be doing it themselves. I also think that in order to sell this service, you will need to explain to many of your potential clients what NDVI is and why they should care. Knowing how to collect and show the data is not enough. Again, just my $0.02.
 
Joined
Jul 16, 2016
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
Age
58
None that I've actually used. Check out the Pix4D app and Drone Deploy. I'm sure someone on here has experience with these?
Hi, Pix4D is a little expensive, you buy by month or year ,depend how often you used....
 
Joined
Jul 15, 2016
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
Age
31
I'm guessing many people will disagree with me, but I don't see the Ag market as being very good for a service provider. As Agflier pointed out, it's getting pretty easy such that almost anyone can do it. Because of this, I think within the next 2 years, many of the farmers who are actually interested in this type of data will be doing it themselves. I also think that in order to sell this service, you will need to explain to many of your potential clients what NDVI is and why they should care. Knowing how to collect and show the data is not enough. Again, just my $0.02.

So what do you think the bulk of the small businesses starting up in August will be? Aerial photography? Commercials? Construction survey? Structure surveys? Where I live is in the heart of farming and ranching, Amarillo Texas. It seems like it makes most since starting to provide agricultural UAV services in my area. What's your opinion?
 
Joined
Jun 2, 2015
Messages
80
Reaction score
17
Location
Texas
This is a little old, but still worth a read.
Five Skills You Need to Succeed in the Commercial Drone Market - sUAS News

Anybody with 1,000 bucks can do, or at least attempt to, video work with a drone. As pointed out on this board before, the rules of videography still apply if you want good results. But this doesn't stop every Tom, Dick, and Harry from at least trying and offering their services. With Part 107 coming up, I think the number of people selling video/photography will increase the most.

The mapping is definitely a step up in skill. Not skills in flying, but skills in software. Between Tower and Mission Planner, the flying part is fairly easy. Setting ground control points is also fairly easy. I usually rent a Trimble GPS with 1-2 cm accuracy. For mapping (not surveying), I think this is good enough. The fun part is learning the software. I've used Agisoft Photoscan and Global Mapper since day one. I haven't tried the online services. There is definitely a lot to learn with these, but what you can do with them is also pretty neat. Oh, and you need a pretty beefy computer to run this software.

My opinion is that unless you are already doing video/photography work and the UAV aspect will only enhance your work/services, then you really need to be at the mapping/photogrammetry skill level, or higher.

In Amarillo, I'm guessing a majority of your potential Ag clients will have larger (>100 acre) properties they own or lease. A Solo (or any quad) is not very efficient for larger properties. With a 82d FOV camera (MAPIR), you'll get around 28-35 acres per battery flight (65% overlap). How many batteries do you have? A fixed-wing can do 300-500 acres per battery. Warning, be very wary of manufacturer claims on how many acres you can cover in one flight. I use an Event38 E384. The one thing I don't like about the E384 is that the camera has to be turned sideways, thus reducing the width of the photo footprint. This leads to narrower spacing between rows and thus, less coverage area per battery.

What camera are you going to use to generate NDVI maps? If you are using a converted camera (Canon, etc.) you will have to fly the same property twice. Once with the a regular RGB camera and again with the converted NIR-GB camera. Anyone who actually knows what NDVI is will not like this approach. You could eliminate the extra flight by flying with a Mapir NDVI camera, or spend bigger bucks and go with a Sequoia (released yet?) or RedEdge camera. If you are truly going to go after the Ag market, you will likely need a dedicated camera like the Sequoia or RedEdge (or ADC) at some point.

Do you have contacts in the farming circles in Amarillo? It shouldn't be hard, but you will need to find someone to let you fly their property for free so you can learn more about flying and collecting the data and then crunching the data. Farmers are usually very word of mouth. Get in good with one and the others may follow.

In my mind, you will have two types of potential Ag clients, either tech savvy (or at least think they are) or old school. You will also have to gauge their knowledge of what you are trying to sell them on (do they know what NDVI is?). Depending on where they are at in these areas will determine how easy it is to sell them on your services. But, the bottom line is money. Other than a pretty map, what EXACTLY are you giving them for their money? Can you take the information you collected and explain how they will save money with the information? The sale is a lot easier if you can tell/show them they will save $10,000 (reduced fertilizer, less watering) by paying you $3,000 for the information (made up numbers for sake of example).

For the same reason I just explained (saving money) on how you might get the Ag work is also the same reason I stated in an earlier post that I think your tech savvy farmers will eventually being doing this work themselves. Considering the amount of money they spend of farming equipment and supplies, the cost of the drone is not that much. Maybe you can make some money until they catch on/up?

These are my thoughts. Anyone else here successful in offering Ag related drone services want to support or counter my example? I would actually love to hear how someone made this offering work. Maybe I'm overlooking something.
 
Joined
Jun 22, 2016
Messages
2
Reaction score
0
Age
31
points off of the top of my head on the subject.

  1. Can you beat what is already provided by satellite or airplane. Is it price, quality of results, or service?
  2. You need to pick a crop and a region and the agronomic or post harvest metric you intend on mapping. You need plenty of groundtruthed data before the data maps are worth much.
  3. Then you need to pick the agronomic or post harvest metric you intend on mapping.
  4. fixed wing is much better for most ag applications. solo is good for experimenting and works for small farms.
  5. NDVI is a basic plant index- it doesn't tell you where or how much to fertilize, it doesn't tell you where disease is, it tells you the ratio of red to IR reflectance , which will mean completely different things depending on your sensors and calibration methods. it is a good relative measurement of "plant health" but temporal comparison should take caution. Hyperspectral sensors can detect instance of single disease or specific nutrient problems, but it is a very different thing.
  6. Crop specific post processing methods are needed to clean the data and implement various statistic models you can start to see and map real agronomic parameters. (looking at wheat is very different than grapevines which is very different than corn) Engineered solutions are very limited in this part of the workflow today, and are for the most part internally developed in house. GIS development experience is critical
  7. I think the best business models work with or as an agronomist or the pest control adviser.
  8. Some crops are easier out of the gate than others. regions too. you need to learn almost everything you can about the regions specific agriculture to have an idea of how to interpret the results into actionable information.
equipment set up for small scale will depend on if you want to process locally or on the cloud.
tower and mission planner have the basic flight planning mapping tools. Sequoia is an out of the box multi-spectral sensor, it has integrated sunlight sensor which is a big plus. You can pre process in pix4d or drone deploy or agisoft etc. QGIS is free gis suite than can handle some post processing, other companies you can hire to take care of this step too- lost of satellite companies moving into this space.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jul 4, 2016
Messages
233
Reaction score
86
Age
62
Location
Dunedin, FL
So what do you think the bulk of the small businesses starting up in August will be? Aerial photography? Commercials? Construction survey? Structure surveys? Where I live is in the heart of farming and ranching, Amarillo Texas. It seems like it makes most since starting to provide agricultural UAV services in my area. What's your opinion?
Great question. My take would be
  1. Aerial photography/videography
    1. Weddings
    2. Real estate
    3. Video production
  2. Structure Survey
  3. Mapping / 3D
  4. Eye in the Sky (tethered)
    1. Disaster
    2. Live events
    3. Construction
  5. EMS
  6. Agriculture
Anyone with a Dji or Solo will offer #1. From there it goes up in cost, reputation, redundancy (cost) and reliable software/hardware (cost), and knowledge (priceless).

Not counting the cost of redundant hardware,
#1 &2 are <$1000 USD
# 3 is <$3000 (plus GIS / 3D background)
#4 is <$3000
#5 will be based on a solid reputation and an in with local government (and a great sales person)
#6 is >$10,000 (I'd argue that SiteScan is currently only reliable solution that non-programmers can make use of).

So, cost of entry will have a lot to do with what businesses pop up that use a UAV as well as add-on services to existing businesses.

I personally like the tethered idea. For an additional $2K I can be an eye in the sky and recoup my investment in a few days of service.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Aug 16, 2016
Messages
12
Reaction score
6
Age
33
I would recommend using Tower to fly your surveys with a NDVI Red+NIR Survey 2 camera from Mapir. Agribotix is the easiest way to produce a geotagged image. Its all automated, requires little know-how. Agriboitx's FarmLens Uploader will geotag your photos and upload them onto their server. The photos will be stitched on their server. The Pro subscription more than likely will be needed.

I just tried the pix4d app for android. and it successfully plans the mission, tilts the camera, takes pictures at certain points. I used there trial and the pictures were perfect. you don't have to use there pix 4d software, just the app like tower. but tower gives me non stop glitching on the solo.
this app gives me 3 glitches,
1.video feed during flight not streaming
2.i cant figure out how to geotag correctly using drone. half of the geo tags were lost. (might have to use a 3rd party device)
3.the batter level was coming back wrong had to restart the drone

the results were amazing. pictures were spot on. maps made easy makes it look good.
now I can consider working with them(pix4d) for $350 a month, it takes you through the whole process like site scan from app to processing. the app is BETA for the solo. completely ready for other dji drones.
 
Joined
Oct 1, 2016
Messages
5
Reaction score
1
Age
62
So what do you think the bulk of the small businesses starting up in August will be? Aerial photography? Commercials? Construction survey? Structure surveys? Where I live is in the heart of farming and ranching, Amarillo Texas. It seems like it makes most since starting to provide agricultural UAV services in my area. What's your opinion?
I live in the Abilene, TX area and am interested in the possibilities of Ag related work with my Solo as well. I've only had my Solo for about a month. I have a friend who owns a local commercial real estate firm and he wants me to fly some videography for a couple of properties. At this point, my initial take is that the commercial real estate business potential is pretty good. I think there will be opportunity for the Ag side but we will have to offer a value-added product to the farmer-client, like being able not only fly and produce imagery (visual, IR, etc) but most importantly be able to interpret the data for the farmer and show its usefulness.

Just curious how things are going for you up in Amarillo?
 
Joined
Oct 1, 2017
Messages
46
Reaction score
6
Age
50
i know this an an older post, but do you (OP) have any updates or experiences to pass along?
 

New Threads

Members online

No members online now.

Forum statistics

Threads
12,915
Messages
146,672
Members
15,464
Latest member
Dronecarrot