Valley Irrigation has launched a service that uses artificial intelligence to detect crop health and irrigation concerns. The Valley Insights service uses computer vision to identify areas of over or under-irrigation, analysing the visual data, detecting issues and alerting the grower.
The company partnered with Prospera Technologies to develop the service, which was initially released in February 2019 for growers in Washington and Nebraska. The initial release showed positive results.
The service has now exceeded expectations by reaching its goal of one million acres by 2020. With growers up against increased resource restrictions, climate changes and water restrictions, the Valley Irrigation service aims to help growers maintain their crop yields while making the most out of their resources.
“Our initial release has been focused in the Northwest, where a late winter created a challenging season for growers,” says Troy Long, Senior Director of Product Management for Valley Irrigation. “They would have been hard pressed for time to sift through stacks of aerial images provided by other services, searching for potential irrigation-related issues. Valley Insights analyzes the images and alerts growers to possible crop threats before they become big problems. It has saved our users a lot of valuable time they can now dedicate elsewhere.”
Henry Boersma, who grows diversified row crops outside of Moses Lake, WA, began piloting Valley Insights this season. He says his crops are already benefitting from the technology.
“When Valley Insights identifies under-watering in certain sectors and alerts us that sprinklers appear to be plugged on certain spans, that’s exactly what’s happening,” he says. “We have another eye in the field, so we can identify issues and make corrections long before we could see stress on our crops with the naked eye. We can fix minor issues before they become major problems, which saves us both time and money.”
Thad Taylor, Sales Manager of Lad Irrigation South, says his customers used Valley Insights to do everything from programming a variable rate irrigation (VRI) table to improving water application.
“One of my customers has very little water allocated to his operation,” he says. “By using Valley Insights, he makes sure his crops get an even application. He’s able to fix issues with his irrigation equipment promptly so he’s not wasting his limited supply of water.”
Valley Irrigation, a company that has been around for more than 60 years, is showing the way when it comes to moving towards autonomous crop farming, harnessing technologies such artificial intelligence to maximize yield with minimal resources.