Our founder Barry Batcheller and CEO David Batcheller were recently interviewed for Bell Bank’s Agribusiness Newsletter AgViews to offer their perspectives on the future of farming, the latest in precision agriculture, and Appareo’s partnership with AGCO, a joint venture called Intelligent Ag Solutions.
Below is a sampling of the Q&A from the AgViews interview:
What has been the biggest advancement in ag technology in the last five years?
Barry: I would say it’s been the translation into precision farming that is bringing a new level of productivity to farmers.
The advancements in agriculture that have happened over the last 50 years – plus additional advancements – will be required to feed the predicted global population of about 9.6 billion by 2050. If we continue at the level of productivity we have today, we’d fall short in feeding the planet by about 50 percent. So we need increasing advancements in agriculture if we’re going to feed this planet.
David: Precision protein is going to be an emerging part of agriculture. The poultry industry, for example, has refined making chicken to where producers can go from chick to chicken with shocking speed. I think we’re going to see, in pork and even beef production, more drive toward precision production to cater to the public’s interest in high-quality, low-cost meat protein.
What are some of your more popular products?
David: On the Intelligent Ag side of the business, we make a popular monitoring system for air drills called Recon Wireless Blockage and Flow Monitor. If you seed soybeans or plant wheat, canola or barley, and you have a monitoring system, there’s a reasonable probability that you’re running our monitor.
For people who buy and use AGCO equipment, things like RoGators, TerraGators, Massey Ferguson, Gleaner combines or Challenger tractors, we do the telematics products for those machines. AGCO launched a new combine last year, called the IDEAL combine. We developed all of the automation and sensors for that.
We also developed an aftermarket section control product for John Deere Air Carts called Engage Zone Control. It communicates with an air seeder’s GPS mapping system to boost yield and reduce inputs. A lot of growers are benefiting from it.
What advantages does an independent company like Appareo have over larger manufacturers?
David: We and others have done a nice job of building new businesses and opportunities around getting more out of a piece of equipment you have rather than replacing that piece of equipment. When those trends really start to take, then the manufacturers look to incorporate that capability onto the machine from the factory. There’s a lot of innovation coming in the aftermarket, and rather than being a little bolt-on capability, it’s getting deeper into the machine.
Earlier this month, we shared our research findings at the Society for Machinery Failure Prevention Technology Conference in Virginia Beach, VA. Our research was specific to Grain Elevator Quality Assurance using Deep Convolutional Neural Network.
The accidental mixing of different grain types at an elevator is a common and costly mistake resulting in either a total loss or costly blending processes to correct. The team presented an automated and intelligent quality assurance system to prevent these incidents by using a deep convolutional neural for crop type classification deployed to an edge device.
According to the team’s research, human crop type classification accuracy across eight different crop types is 99.7% for the best expert and as low as 83.9% for the worst novice with an overall accuracy of 96.2% for the entire group in lab experiments. It is anticipated that in real-world conditions when faced with fatigue, distraction, varied skill level and negligence this number would reduce further.
“It is clear that a highly accurate classification system which is able to continuously monitor the process and warn the operator would help reduce incidents.”
To read more about the findings from the team’s research, click here.