Aker Partners with Sinclair College Partners to Advance the use of UAS Technology for Crop Management

 

Dayton, OH – Sinclair College’s National UAS Training and Certification Center along with Aker, a nationally recognized industry leader in providing in-season crop protection data for farm operations, have created a new partnership to leverage unmanned aerial systems (UAS) technology to monitor crops for disease, insects, and other stresses.

“The Agriculture sector is the number one industry in the Midwest region, “said Jeffrey A. Miller, Chief Operating Officer, Unmanned Aerial Systems at Sinclair College. “ We are excited to collaborate with a nationally recognized company like Aker to provide flight support and data analytics, accelerating their expansion in the Midwest region while giving our students the opportunity for additional real-world experience in this important market segment.”

“The advancement of UAS technology, coupled with regulatory developments, have been critical enabling factors for us to showcase the true value of the timely application of UAS based remote sensing and data analysis in support of the agricultural industry,” said Orlando Saez, co-founder, and CEO of Aker. “Sinclair is an excellent partner for Aker because they remain at the cutting-edge of UAS technology with the tools and technical capabilities necessary to help advance our capabilities while serving our clients around the Midwest region.”

Sinclair will leverage its UAS, sensors, ground support equipment, and expert flight crews to enable rapid expansion of Aker services in Ohio and the broader Midwest while enabling students to gain invaluable real-world experience in support of precision agriculture missions.

Sinclair College’s National UAS Training and Certification Center sits at the forefront of UAS innovation, creating partnerships, developing leading curriculum, and investing significantly to establish a nationally prominent program dedicated to meeting the workforce needs of the growing UAS industry. Sinclair’s UAS program supports applied research and development, consulting, and training leveraging leading expertise and advanced unmanned and manned simulation, indoor flight facilities, aircraft, sensors, avionics, maintenance labs, additive and traditional manufacturing labs, data analytics software, and a wind tunnel lab. For more information, visit uas.sinclair.edu.

Aker serves an international client base advancing crop diagnostics with practical technology tools and services to improve the profitability and sustainability of every farm operation. Aker services have become the backbone of many precision farming teams serving as the in-season customer service platform for chemical suppliers, agriculture retailers and consultants to help their growers. Their portfolio of services include crop scouting tools, imagery and analytics, and patentded pest detection.

Aker recognized by 2018 THRIVE at the Forbes AgTech Summit

Salinas, Calif., June 28, 2018—SVG Partners announced Philadelphia based startup Augean Robotics as the winner of the 2018 THRIVE AgTech Innovation Award early this morning during the fourth annual Forbes AgTech Summit. In addition to Augean Robotics, precision agriculture company Aker and microbiome company Intrinsyx Bio received honorable mentions.

SVG Partners Founder and CEO John Hartnett and THRIVE Platform Director Mareese Keane presented the award on the Forbes main stage as day two of the summit kicked off. “Each year we are continually impressed not only by the innovative technologies of these companies but also the caliber and level of leadership of each team,” Hartnett said. “The THRIVE Innovation Award is awarded to companies exemplifying the best in technology and leadership.”

Here’s the Aker pitch video and you can find more details from this event here.

Aker is chosen as a 2018 Red Herring Top 100 North America Winner

June 20, 2018, Los Angeles, U.S. – Red Herring today announced the winners of its Top 100 North America 2018 event, recognizing the continent’s most exciting and innovative private technology companies.

The winners, celebrated at a special awards ceremony at the Marina Del Rey Hotel, have been chosen from thousands of entrants, whittled down to hundreds making the trip to California. The ceremony, led by Red Herring chairman Alex Vieux, was preceded by two days of keynote speeches, discussions and finalist presentations.

Companies were judged by industry experts, insiders, and journalists on a wide variety of criteria including financial performance, innovation, business strategy and market penetration. Winners ran the gamut of verticals, from Agtech and marketing to security, IoT and many more.

Red Herring’s editors have been evaluating the world’s startups and tech companies for over two decades. It gives them the ability to see through the industry’s hype, to pick firms that will continue on a trajectory to success. Brands such as Alibaba, Google, Kakao, Skype, Spotify, Twitter and YouTube have all been singled out in Red Herring’s storied history.

“2018’s crop of Top 100 winners has been among our most intriguing yet,” said Vieux. “North America has led the way in tech for so many years, and to see such unique, pioneering entrepreneurs and companies here in California, which is in many ways the heartland of the industry, has been a thrilling experience.

“What has excited me most is to see so many people forging high-tech niches in high-tech and cutting-edge sectors,” added Vieux. “Some of the technical wizardry and first-rate business models on show here at the conference has been fantastic to learn about. We believe (COMPANY) embodies the drive, skill and passion on which t, ch thrives.  Aker Technologies Inc. should be proud of its achievement: the competition was incredibly strong.”

Following Aker’s Top 100 win it is invited to showcase itself at the Top 100 Global event in October. Red Herring is dedicated to support Aker’s continued path to success and innovation.

 

Save money and scout smarter with the new version of AkerScout.

Spring is here, and we are thrilled to announce an updated version of AkerScout™ for iPhone/iPad and Android. We have been working hard to add more features without compromising simplicity and reliability.

AkerScout™ is a FREE (no strings attached) and easy to use mobile crop scouting tool for growers, enterprise ag retailers and crop consultants to help prioritize, document and share integrated pest management scouting observations. We have NO limits on user accounts, storage, scouting observations recorded or acres in the system.

What’s New in 2018…
– Order high-resolution imagery* (premium)
– Ability to create farm and fields
– Easy-to-create field boundaries (CLU or drawn via mobile)
– Yield calculator (in partnership with Pro-Farmer)
– Support for multiple crop seasons per year
– Easy to assign a scouting task to yourself or others
– Now over 50+ crop types supported

And we improved…
– Ability to add pins and annotations (desktop only)
– SSURGO soil layer (desktop only)
– Manage unlimited growers, agronomist, scouts accounts
– Offline operation support for low Internet areas
– Capture geo-referenced field images
– Improved reporting (print and online)
– Download all your scouting data
– Fully integrated pest management recording
– Access via mobile app or online desktop

* Our high-resolution imagery service is available nationwide and quickly delivered to your AkerScout™ account.  Each field that we survey is reviewed by a staff of professional agronomists. Yes, that’s an actual person! We then identify areas of interest that you should scout first. Call +1-507-‭893-4545‬ to learn more about our premium services.

Thousands of users across 21 countries agree that AkerScout™ supports better in-season decisions that save time and protect crops, all this without spending a penny.

 

 

Shared values will move the Agri-Food data revolution into action!

Aker participated in a recent event hosted by FARM Illinois, “AT THE FOREFRONT: Propelling the Agri-Food Data Revolution.”

The two dominant themes for this event were (1) Agriculture data as a currency and considerations as it moves from farm to fork, and (2) How will this group seize the opportunity to enhance leadership and promote sustainable innovation in Illinois?

Rob Dongoski from Ernst and Young was the most provocative of the presenters with is challenge and scorecard on Agri-Food data; Who owns it? Why do consumers and producers care about it? What data is relevant and for what purpose? On average Rob gives C- on how the industry, in general, is dealing with these questions.

Important to note that agriculture data is not a commodity (limited by supply-demand market dynamics) but rather a currency with virtually an infinite dimension.

As a currency, Rob maintains that the study of agriculture data should center around data value, security and fraud, and how this information transacts frictionless at high velocity within this supply chain.

Data has the potential to transform the way we produce, process, manufacture, and distribute the food of the future. Technology is enabling the creation and proliferation of data across the entire agri-food supply chain. Supply chains, however, are traditionally linear with a discrete order of progression – input, produce, source, make, deliver, consume. To maximize the potential of data in the agri-food landscape, we must enable frictionless, transparent, and effective movement of data from farm-to-fork.

Kyle Doodley from CNH Industrial spoke next. Kyle has a background in human factors/ergonomics, yet he is responsible for the CNH’s overall data strategy and analytics. This skill set was a perfect match for his perspective. Kyle explained that the industry needs to work backward to understand valid use cases from the data to guide the collection and analysis. He also established that data acts as an exogenous factor to exert influence on its economic value. He asserted that agriculture data impacts the Total Factor Productivity (TFP) where there is a portion of output that cannot be explained by the input used in production.

I enjoyed visiting at our table with Kyle and listening to his wit. He shared how the largest companies in an industry often are not responsible for the means of data production or infrastructure, but rather create value from the transaction and transfer of data across the supply chain; Facebook is the largest content company, yet they don’t produce any. Uber is the largest transportation company and they do not own cars, etc.

Mark Beckmann, Director of Industry Solutions at Microsoft showed a map with players and actors across the industry and impressed that technology isn’t holding us back, people, cultural barriers, and process are what is holding the industry from full integration. According to Mark, the biggest challenge Microsoft is facing is how do we, as users of data, change behavior to create the most value out of data? Mark anticipates several breakthroughs with personalized data vault and greater adoption of related technologies to create transparency and opportunities for content owners – the farmers – to participate in the monetization stream of their data.

Aker is thrilled to be part of this effort. We bring a unique dataset to support in-season crop management to improve grower efficiency and customer service platform for Ag retailers and suppliers. Here are some my biggest takeaways from this event:

  1. Trust is the glue and the grease to help hold and mobilize agriculture data and the intrinsic value across the supply chain.
  2. Technology is not an answer. The real effort is exploring shared values to overcome barriers to adoption and change.
  3. My take: FARM Illinois has a unique opportunity to be not only an industry convener but also take an active role as a publisher and storyteller consolidating industry knowledge for the benefit of educating consumers.

Illinois has a lot of assets to support the industry move from participant to innovator with shared values that can engage the rest of the world in this conversation.

Getting Smarter: 2018 Commodity Classic

From left to right: Todd Golly (Aker Technologies Inc.), Randy Meyers (Bayer), Cyndi Young (Brownfield Ag News)

“The general trend is that everything is getting smarter.” states co-founder and COO Todd Golly when describing that technological advances within the industry, “Whether it’s accounting systems, tillage tools, crop protection products, or application equipment, everything is getting smarter and trying to use data and algorithms to make farms more efficient and profitable.”

Todd points out that not only do these technologies need to possess accurate algorithms, but they must also bring a valuable business purpose to users. During his interview (pictured) he discussed how Aker played a large part in proving the usefulness of Delaro, a Bayer fungicide, for in-season risk-management. During his 2017 trial, Todd used Aker’s imagery service to fly before and after the application of the fungicide. Todd noticed the product had both a rapid and lasting positive responses to the health of the crop throughout the season. Through Aker’s imagery correlation to yield Todd was able to justify the cost of using this product in seasons to come.

Listen to Brownfield Ag News interview.

Use Case: Off-season Field Management Matters

This 300-acre soybean field was flown in the middle of the growing season. Indicated in the image, there is visible plant stress in the form of an unusual line throughout the field (the red area labeled 1). In the off-season, manure was spread at each access point in the field. This proves that there is compaction from the manure operation. The compaction paired with the uneven manure spreading can have negative lasting impacts on the plant health in future crops. This is one way Aker can help you take a look at what is going on between your rows. Review this use case via the Aker platform >>

Aker – A New Face of Cleantech Innovation

We are honored to be the winner of the AgTech track in Clean Tech Open Midwest competition. We thank this awesome community of supporters who see the need to improve crop management practices with the right technology. More news here.

Can the Midwest Own Innovation In BigFood Agriculture?

As the innovation ecosystem in Chicago and the Midwest expands with almost breathtaking speed, we are establishing ourselves as best-of-class in fields such as nanotechnology, robotics, digital and financial tech, material science and advanced manufacturing. I want to add one more area in which the Midwest can be recognized as the world’s leader in innovation. It is perhaps the most obvious and least recognized of all—agriculture.

The Chicago region has obvious advantages in terms of both tradition and the vibrancy of its innovation ecosystem. Leadership in agricultural innovation on a large scale is there for the taking. But we are not the only ones to know that. The race is on to become the AgTech home for Big Agriculture (or Big Food), with creation of an enormous number of jobs and value up for grabs.

As an entrepreneur, I look for opportunity. Big Food presents some of the best opportunities in the last few years. Here are some reasons why. The International Association of Agricultural Economics projects worldwide population will grow 35 percent by 2050, leading to a 59 to 98 percent increase in demand for food. There are two ways to meet this hunger. Cut down more forests to open more arable land—an approach that is both unwise and unsustainable—or find new ways through bioengineering and precision farming to increase yields from existing farmland.

The latter is where opportunity lies for the Midwest economy. We have the talent, the resources and tradition as the breadbasket of the world to emerge quickly as the leader in new approaches to production-scale agriculture.

Most urbanites relate to disruption in agriculture largely through farm-to-table distribution or the vertical urban farming movement. This is rather a narrow view of agriculture. Let’s recognize where the big opportunity lies—production-scale agriculture, which already represents such a huge segment of the Midwest economy. Just a 1 percent increase  in production driven by innovation in sustainable precision farming, bioengineering and supply chain systems would trigger enormous change that would impact generations to come.

We are not, of course, starting from scratch. There are several startups at the forefront of this movement including FarmLogs, Agrible, Farmlead, 640 Labs and my own firm Aker, to name a few. The venture capital community is getting on board through initiatives such as Cultivian Sandbox, Serra Ventures and Tyson Foods’ new venture fund. State policies and organizations like Farm Illinois are also contributing to the growth and relevance of precision-farming technologies in production agriculture.

But if we are going to do for innovation in agriculture what Silicon Valley is to tech and New York is to media, we have to act now. The Midwest trails in early-stage investment capital in this industry. There must be more with a specific focus incubating production agriculture startups. That suggests the rest of the innovation ecosystem, especially the VC community, should ramp up before others emerge elsewhere. Rest assured that I’m not the only person involved in the future of agriculture who recognizes the potential for leadership in the growth of production-level agriculture. If we don’t seize it, another region will.

There is no greater need in the world than sustainable ways to feed the growing number of people on earth. There is no more logical place for Big Food research, entrepreneurial activity, systems development, to take place than right here.