The BigYield Spotlight – Aerial Mapping

Kent Kauffman discusses our aerial mapping service and its benefits to producers.

Listen to Kent Kauffman of the team and Kyle Hill, Ag 1280 Farm Director, each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on Ag 1280 KDKD-AM. The segments air at 7:15 am and again at 12:15 pm.

This segment originally aired on May 29, 2017.

Audio Transcription

Kyle: Time for the BigYield Spotlight, coming to you from The Farm outside of Garden City. I’m Kyle Hill, visiting with We’re glad to be out here today.

Kent: Thank you for being here Kyle.

Kyle: You were a geospatial engineer in the military Kent. Tell us a bit more about that experience and what exactly geospatial engineering is.

Kent: One of the things I’m really happy about is I can bring my military experience to agriculture. A geospatial engineer is someone who takes mapping data and then displays that data for people to make decisions with. It’s kind of like you do with farms, where you fly over a field. We did the same things. We kept track of troop movements, enemy attacks, weather, snow melt, flooding, different types of soil types, bridges, and just a little bit of everything. We would turn all of this into a map that someone could hold in their hands or a digital map like Google Earth.

Kyle: How did you get this data.

Kent: We got this data through a multitude of sources. We got it through drones, planes, satellites, and even got some from blimps.

Kyle: Alright. How is this coming together for agriculture?

Kent: In agriculture we use the same sources to get data. We use drones, we use planes, satellites, all of that. On the research farm, I’ve been using drones for the last several years. Many growers we work with have also been doing the same thing. There is a whole bunch of satellite imagery out there, and a bunch of planes have been taking pictures of fields for years.

Kyle: What are the difference in these mapping sources.

Kent: Drones will get you the highest resolution data on your fields. They can also be done the most often. Satellites can consistently image your fields, but they can’t get that same resolution. You won’t be able to check for things like replant, for instance. They are very good for getting consistent imagery. Because they’re on that inflexible schedule, if there is a cloud in the way you won’t be able to see your fields. Planes have traditionally been in the middle resolution-wise, but they have been pretty pricy. We have been able to work out a new aerial plane service that is very attractively priced.

Kyle: How does your mapping service work?

Kent: We use planes to fly growers fields roughly every 10 to 14 days. We will fly a total of 12 times during a growing season. We also use four different sensors. These give growers immediate information about water, disease, and pest issues. We can cover over 500,000 acres in a day, and get these maps back to the grower within 24 hours. If we can save a grower just a couple bushels from spotting problems and saving yield, then the service will pay for itself.

Kyle: Now on these four different sensors, does this mean that you can do one fly-over and it takes care of all four things? Or do you have to do multiple fly-overs?

Kent: In each fly-over we will get all four of these sensors. We have four different cameras on the plane and you get all four information types. Every single field is turned over within 24 hours for that immediate decision making.

Kyle: If somebody has questions about the mapping service or any of the other products available through BigYield, how can they get ahold of you?

Kent: The first thing they can do is check our website, They can also call us here on the research farm at 816-773-6096. They can stop by the research farm, we’re off of route 7 just west of Garden City on the north side of the highway. You will see giant signs that say “The Farm.” You can come right in and we’ll show you what we’re doing and how the research farm works, and answer anything you want to know about.

Kyle: You’re showing us quite a bit of the facility here as we are taking care of our BigYield Spotlight on-site here at The Farm Research Center. Wonderful facility you guys have here.

Kent: Thank you Kyle.

Kyle: Once again we’ve been visiting with Kent Kauffman getting his perspective on the products available here with Thank you for that perspective and thank you for your service. We look forward to more conversations with you.

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