Aerial imagery aids decision-making

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest As the growing season has progressed, aerial imagery has been part of the world record setting data-collection efforts for Terra, a single corn plant in a Farm Science Review field. The bird’s eye view of the field through the 2017 growing season has been provided by AirScout.“The full season package has 14 flights and they start approximately mid-April and fly every two weeks or so. In the heart of the season late June through mid-July, they fly every 10 to 14 days during peak vegetative growth. Then they widen the timeline back out to finish out the season. They will probably do two flights in September and another in October,” said Tim Berning, with Precision Agri Services in Minster, the only AirScout dealer Ohio. “They use fixed-winged airplanes for the imagery. The full year flights take priority. They get an approximate time and they fly when sky conditions are favorable for taking good images. With the planes they can very efficiently take pictures of a lot of acres in one flight.”Berning is an agronomist and CCA for Precision Agri Services and sees great value in the images for making farm decisions.“We found the AirScout is a tool for the tool box to help make decisions. Any time we have a test plot we try to get aerial imagery on that. It helps us identify how the crop is responding to management changes. It also helps us identify external factors that would maybe hurt the research we are doing. Prior to using this imagery we didn’t have a good way to measure those factors. That is primarily a lot of what we use the imagery for — for the research projects we have going on,” Berning said. “For farms, there are short term decisions that can be made with regard to insects and diseases moving in. It can help us be more efficient when scouting. You can identify cooler, wetter parts of the field and with AirScout the image is fine enough that you can pick out emergence problems in fields for replant decisions. Aerial imagery gives you a chance to see the big picture view of the field. It is a one-foot resolution so you can take the image and zoom in and start identifying good areas of the field and the problem areas. It gives you a quick snap shot of what’s out there and then helps guide us as far as how we’re going to go out there with boots on the ground to verify what we think we might be seeing with that image.”An AirScout flight includes three images: a standard Red-Green-Blue (RGB) color image, a thermal image capable of detecting a one-tenth of a degree difference, and an Adjusted Digital Vegetative Index (ADVI) image.“In the ADVI they are taking certain bands of the light being reflected off the crop and assigning numerical values to it and then coming up with a photo. The dark purples and blues mean a very good crop and the reds mean a stressed crop with the greens being in between,” Berning said. “The combination of the three images is the most valuable. Each one gives you different knowledge of the field and the combination paints the full picture of what is going on. Early in the season, the RGB bare soil image shows the darker areas of the field and you can see the temperature on the field and you can tell where it is warm and dry or cool and wet. In late June when the crop canopy shades the ground, the ADVI corresponds pretty well to the yield monitor data that fall.”Beyond short-term management decisions, Berning said the imagery could also be very useful in making longer-term decisions for the future of the farm.“The images can help you decide whether to invest in something like variable rate technology or hire the work done and see how it fits into your management style. One client decided to invest in his own precision application equipment to practice controlled traffic after imagery helped him identify compacted areas of the field,” Berning said. “One client said that AirScout reminded him of the sins he committed in the past year and he changed his management. Aerial images over time should have repeatability and if you find an image that does not fit in the pattern, it is a warning flag that something may not be right out there. This wet year is showing some tile issues that never showed up in previous years. In one case, the pattern had repeated itself from problems in a previous wet year and we found those tile problems that needed to be addressed.”The Farm Science Review field that is home to Terra has been flown 11 times over the growing season so far, said Trey Colley, a graduate student in precision agriculture at The Ohio State University who is leading the data collection effort.“We have had 1.6 gigabytes of aerial imagery so far downloaded off of the AirScout website. We have really enjoyed using that as tool and hope to continue doing that in the future,” Colley said. “So far in the total, Terra is up to five gigabytes of data for the whole year. We are going to go really big and see how much data we can collect. We are going to try and hit 10 gigabytes by the end of the year for one corn plant.” To follow Terra’s progress through 2017, follow @OhioStatePA on Twitter and Facebook for weekly updates. This is the third story of a four-part series following the project through 2017.last_img read more

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Universal Access to Data Repositories

first_imgUniversal access to any structured repository is a compelling concept and something that truly warrants the description of being a ‘disruptive technology’.  It’s still a dream, but it has become the goal behind many new technologies now operating under the name of Enterprise Information Integration (EII).  A commonality behind all or most of the EII approaches is an attempt to create a single unified interface that can provide virtual access to many different data stores and repositories that may have implementations spanning vastly different data structures.The same trend towards creating a virtual interface spanning heterogeneous systems has also been happening in the world of enterprise content management (ECM).  The last twenty years have seen many many companies take their stab at the content management space, all creating products with different subsets of the ECM-space feature list and all of them with competing architectural and data models.  This is to be expected. Formtek is one of these many vendors — we’ve concentrated on our customers and created  quality solutions for the niche industries of their businesses.  Like many vendors, we feel that the unique solutions we’ve created address very specialized customer requirements.But concepts within ECM have been evolving over time and a lot of concepts have matured.  Some areas still continue to evolve today, especially in the areas of search and compliance.  But because of the ever on-going evolution, there never was an industry-wide shared vision for ECM with a detailed blueprint for how to achieve that vision.  This approach has been a healthy one, one that lets products and ideas compete, leading to solutions that address real-world problems.The result of this proliferation of systems is that large enterprises are finding that their data is being managed by multiple systems.  Creating and providing access to enterprise-wide Business Intelligence is hampered by the disparate systems.  Collaborative and Convergence technologies are attempting more and more to create consolidated views of all information across the enterprise.In the world of Java, one standard has come about for specifying a common method for accessing content repositories across multiple systems.  It is JSR-170 and is also known as the Content Repository API for Java or JCR.  Day Software has been the main proponent behind hammering out this standard.  Day’s visionaries Roy Fielding and David Nuescheler (spec lead) have been authors and promoters of the new approach towards standardizing the access across repositories.  They have made great attempts of trying to be inclusive by bring more than 60 vendors into the standardization process, including vendors like IBM, Oracle, Stellant and Filenet.  Day clearly outlines the benefits of a standard approach towards accessing content, and with broad support, this could be very disruptive.Day has also been leading a reference implementation of JSR-170 called the JackRabbit project.  It is being hosted as an Apache incubator project.The JackRabbit project, perhaps for portability reasons, is a non-DB based implementation of the JSR-170 spec.  It serves the purpose well as a reference implementation, but some question whether this implementation can be ‘industrial strength’ enough for enterprise applications — DB vendors have spent years wrestling with problems related to high-volume transactions and scalability. Other factors that have impeded acceptance of JSR-170 to date have been no major commercial vendors offering JSR-170 connectors for their repositories, the fact that the specification was frameworked within Java, the level of difficulty in creating a JSR-170 interface for an existing product, and the implications of being a lowest-common-denominator technology. Undoubtedly many ECM vendors view JSR-170 as a threat to their installed base and have been reluctant to move forward with the technology.  Day has helped to accelerate the process by creating connectors for two major vendors, Documentum/EMC and Filenet.  Day has also pledged to create JSR-170 connectors for OpenText LiveLink, Microsoft SharePoint, IBM Domino.doc, Software AG Tamino, and Interwoven. The availability of connectors to existing ECM systems will be a major decision point for determining whether or not the technology can be useful for customers or not.  Maybe a decision by Day (and others) to Open Source a collection of JSR-170 connectors for popular ECM vendor systems would truely accelerate the disruptive power of this technology — but this does not yet seem to be their current business strategy.Then there is the choice of Java.  The ‘J’ of JSR-170 is ‘Java’.  While the overall concept of JSR-170 need not be limited to Java, that was how it was framed, but it may be limiting to any kind of cross-over acceptance.  Over the last decade Java has had many successes and can clearly be called an enterprise-level technology.  Most of the major ECM vendors are heavily, if not predominantly, Java based in their implementations. But there are competitors to Java.  Java is most commonly compared against the .Net equivalent language, C#.  Actually Java has reached a phase where it is being questioned.  Some well-known Java proponents have even recently defected to newer technologies, like Ruby.  There are issues with Java as having poor performance, being too complex and just too ‘heavy’.  Especially in the area of web development, the Java-based solutions have not been too nimble, leading to an explosion now of Java-based ‘frameworks’ that try to fill the short-comings.Because of the wide range of web technologies available for thin-client development, JSR-170, a technology framed within the Java community, may not seem to be very compelling for Web Content Management systems that aren’t Java-based.  One open-source attempt to create a PHP equivalent implementation of JSR-170 does not seem to have gotten much traction.There is the issue of the difficulty in implementing technology.  Implementation may not be ‘difficult’, but it is certainly not trivial.  And as with all specifications, it often takes a lot of time to ensure true compliance with and complete understanding of a specification document.  More template connector code and more examples might help better seed the vendor community to motivate them to create/contribute connectors.Finally, there is the issue that the technology is lowest-common-denominator.  If you want to build an application on top of XYZ vendor’s technology, you’d be able to access a much richer level of functionality by using that vendor’s API rather than using the somewhat limited capabilities of JSR-170.Formtek has great interest in JSR-170.  The capabilities of JSR-170 could lead to some very interesting applications.  It has great potential, but it still seems to lack momentum, and needs to become more widespread to become very useful.  Day’s continuing contributions to the list of available connectors may change that.The jury is out on that, but JSR-170 and Jackrabbit has certainly generated a lot of interest.The approach that Formtek has taken towards EII has been SOA and Web Services.  We believe the momentum behind SOA technology is there today and at least in the short-term that this is the best approach.last_img read more

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Why You Didn’t Reach Your Goals Last Year and How to Reach Them Now

first_imgRight around this time each year, people stop to write their goals and to resolve to make changes in their lives. Most of the time the goals aren’t achieved or the resolutions kept. The reason we fail is because, outside of some greater context, goals and resolutions are impotent.Not Enough Focus at 50,000 FeetWe spend too much time in the here and now, and not enough time working on what will give our lives meaning, our vision of ourselves, our values, our mission, and our contribution. If you want to reach your goals and keep your resolutions, you have to spend time here, at 50,000 ft.How is your goal or resolution tied to the person you are striving to become?How does your goal align with your values? Which values?What mission is your goal or resolution going to help you to achieve?In what way does your goal or resolution help you to make the contribution you are here to make?There isn’t any reason to work on all the things on your To Do list unless those things are concretely tied to what gives your life meaning. But once you can answer these questions, you need to get to the concrete.Not Enough Focus at 10,000 ft.A goal or a resolution needs a plan. Without a concrete, written action plan and accountability, your goals or resolutions are simply good intentions. Spending time at 50,000 feet can help compel you with a burning reason “why.” Spending time at 10,000 feet can provide you with the “what,” the “how,” and the “when.”In order to reach your goal, what do you have to do right now?What actions do you have to take, and when do you have to take themWhat resources do you have available to help you achieve your goal and keep your resolution?How are you going to hold yourself accountable?Without a big, compelling reason “why,” your goals and resolutions are impotent. Without an action plan to commit to and personal accountability, your goals and resolutions are nothing more than good intentions.You breathe life into your goals and resolutions by doing the work to tie them to your mission and what gives meaning to your life.last_img read more

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