Scientific Cal Ag (SCA): Leveraging Drone-Tech for Precision Agriculture

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Anthony Hall, President and CEO, Scientific Cal AgAnthony Hall, President and CEO
It was at the World Ag Expo 2019, as over 100,000 attendees gathered to learn and assess the latest in the field of AgTech. A major head-turner was the novel technology company, Scientific Cal Ag (SCA) conducting its first Farmer Research Study. Nearly 60 percent of participants identified themselves as growers or farm owners, while agronomist/crop scientist, agriculture research and development, consultants, operations, and sales comprised smaller portions. The survey found that many farmers refrain from hiring a specialist during the growing season, preferring to handle the ground truthing themselves. The reason behind this, as many participants mentioned was, “We tend to be bombarded with all of this new technology, but so far we just don’t see any savings.” Further, the recent solutions in aerial imagery have been primarily focused on selling imageries of essentially low biomass areas to crop scientists. And even after receiving these images, crop scientists need to carry out further field testing—ground truthing—to identify the cause of the problem, in terms of soil analysis and plant inspection.

By engineering a drone that traverses around cultivation, SCA has the answer to this quandary as their solution is meant to reduce the costs associated with hiring crop specialists.
“While existing drone technology provides growers with targeted aerial imagery, our drone technology asks the question—Why do we need to stop at aerial imagery? What if we could land our drone and provide the same service as crop scientists and identify, pests, disease, pH, temperature, moisture, and saltine levels?—that’s where we are different,” says Anthony Hall, the president, and CEO of SCA. Through its aerial technology, SCA can capture images to pinpoint coordinates for landing and carrying out ground truthing. Simultaneously, SCA’s camera technology is capable of capturing information underneath the canopy of the plants to provide images to growers on the condition of the plant, in terms of controlling pests and diseases. The images also provide relevant information on canopy management to either trim or extend the leaves, and to protect or allow more sunlight to cover the fruits. The collected information can be shared with many crop varieties to improve crop yields worldwide. For the annual growers, SCA’s ground truthing can provide relevant farm information that covers a larger area in a more cost-effective manner than current practices.

While existing drone technology provides growers with targeted aerial imagery, our drone technology asks the question—Why do we need to stop at aerial imagery?

SCA has access to vast amounts of agricultural acres within 100 miles radius of Paso Robles, which will further assist in sharpening the analysis capabilities of its drone technology. Serving as a launch pad to its development is the company’s leadership team tapping expertise from across a number of best-in-class innovative companies.

Currently, SCA is on pre-revenue conducting stealth beta testing phase in the grape agriculture field and is on track to roll out its drone technology during the fourth quarter of 2019. “Given our close proximity to Paso Robles, our initial focus will be on the grape growers capturing images related to pests and diseases. During our expansion into orchards, SCA will also provide irrigation advisement, pest and disease control and canopy management to the Central Valley growers,” informs Hall. “From an international perspective, whereas, there are about 1 million acres of grapes planted in the USA, about 20 million acres are planted with grapes worldwide. Oranges, cherries, almonds, and apples collectively provide another 15 million worldwide of planted fruits and nuts where SCA can add meaningful value to growers.”