Q. What is SlantRange’s business focused on?
We design, manufacture, and market sensor and analytics systems for use on 3rd party drone aircraft that measure a variety of crop health conditions for farmers. We are continually seeking out ways to use airborne remote sensing technologies to improve farming productivity.
Q. Your technology adds tremendous value to many areas, lets talk agriculture. How does SlantRange help farmers?
Our system produces multiple data products for farmers that each have some unique value:
- Crop Populations – Measurements of the plant density (plants/acre) that a farmer can compare to his planting plan to see if he needs to replant. Also, this measurement provides a baseline for crop insurance claims.
- Vegetation Stress Maps – Our stress maps provide farmers early detection of nutrient deficiencies, pest infestations, and dehydration for targeted applications and improved yields.
- Weed Maps – Maps of weed coverage for targeted herbicide applications.
- Growth Stage Maps – Maps to assist the farmer in determining what his susceptibility to weed pressure is.
- Crop Vigor – Basic NDVI maps.
Q. I grew up in Vermont in a family filled with farmers, many of who were (and are) not up on the latest technology. Is this a challenge for you in this area?
Yes, of course. All new technology needs to first prove itself valuable and then needs to displace current methods. Flying a drone is an entirely new concept to farmers, agronomists, and scouts but the heavy adoption of GPS-guided implements and the widespread use of crop dusters have helped.
Q. What types of drones are typically used in farming?
It depends where you go and what crops your looking at. Fixed wing systems can cover a lot more acreage in a given amount of time, which makes them more efficient and preferred in large area crops. Multicopter systems are better at handling steep terrain, very low altitude measurements, and in general are easier to learn to use.
Q. What industry is most quickly adopting this technology?
We’ve been concentrated primarily on corn and soybean specifically with agriculture. There is an immense amount of interest in that area but I don’t have much data on other segments. I would imagine the higher value ag crops will see the fastest adoption. Separately of course oil & gas, mining, infrastructure inspection, video production, law enforcement all seem to be growing quickly.
Q. Do you have a video or two you could share of your technology in action?
Unfortunately our technology doesn’t lend itself well to a cool video. Our system takes still images through a port in the bottom of the plane and then the data is processed in a few minutes post-flight. The interesting videos we do have are just GoPro videos from the nose of the plane looking forward.
Q. Are there any books on UAVs that you would recommend our readers check out?
None specifically. I would say that UAVs aren’t new and have been around for decades in the military realm and what we’re seeing is that technology finally becoming available at commercially viable price points. There are some interesting books on the development of these systems in the early military years that provide some insight on where the commercial world may go.