Collecting aerial imagery in agriculture has increased in recent years with the emergence of unmanned aerial vehicles and more sophisticated infrared and remote sensing tools. However, challenges remain as to how timely captured data can be processed and utilized for in-season crop management decisions.

Acquisitions and collaborative partnerships within the precision industry are accelerating technical improvements to allow for near real-time application of aerial imagery. This week, Manitoba-based precision ag company Farmers Edge announced an agreement to become the sole distributor for Planet’s satellite imagery services, which include RapidEye and SkySat.

Planet is a data analytics and aerospace company based in San Francisco and according to Wade Barnes, president and CEO of Farmers Edge, the partnership will be a game-changer for overcoming challenges of partial, delayed or inconsistent views of fields.

Barnes adds that the partnership is a significant investment for the company to becoming a more comprehensive provider of data analytic services and aerial imaging analysis.

 “Essentially, Planet was kind of handing the keys over to a certain degree to us to drive this for them for the next 3 years. But also, it’s a big thing for a company of our size. We’re not a Monsanto or a DuPont that have huge war chests. We had to make a significant cash commitment in order to solidify this deal. I think both parties had to make big commitments on both sides, but that’s how you get great partnerships.”

Barnes added that long-term, he sees farmers, retailers and dealers seeking more independent providers of data management services, provided there is proven value, vs. those companies who may be affiliated with a specific brand of seed, chemical or equipment.