“Satellite imagery? Yes it is a nice gadget but too expensive for what it brings…” It is no surprise if you have already heard or perhaps said this sentence yourself. While satellite technology for agriculture applications has been available for over 30 years, it has failed to be widely used due to costs, complexity of implementation and limited information provided. This is exactly what SpaceSense wants to change through its innovative solutions.
This young French start-up created in 2019 and currently in the Plug&Play AgTech North Dakota accelerator aims to enrich satellite information through several artificial intelligence methods. “A large portion of agriculture stakeholders do not know what can be done with satellite imagery, especially when analysing this data with advanced analytics tools like AI” explains Sami Yacoubi, co-founder of SpaceSense “That is what pushed us to launch SpaceSense, to make these solutions accessible and democratize their usage”.
Innovative solutions adapted to all levels of maturity
The company offers solutions around crop health and soil monitoring, aiming at increasing the grower’s margins by reducing water and chemical usage while still improving yields. SpaceSense also made an original business model decision: “We chose to not design our solutions for growers but for digital farming companies which will be able to integrate this data into their own services, allowing them to mix several data sources” adds Sami Yacoubi.
SpaceSense chose to develop a wide range of solutions adapted to different levels of maturity, enabling it to provide insights to any company. “We have rather common solutions around vegetation indices, nitrogen prescription maps and automated boundaries delineation, but we also have much more advanced solutions like soil moisture detection, crop type identification, and even soil composition detection using only satellite imagery” says Jyotsna Budideti, SpaceSense’s other co founder.
These advanced solutions benefit from the use of AI methods:: “By working with a Spanish customer specialised in irrigation, we were able to design a solution that can, only from radar satellite imagery, measure the soil moisture to a depth up to 30 centimeters” explains Jyotsna Budideti. “This solution based on an AI model gives a soil moisture value every 10 meters on the whole field! With that solution our client can enrich their models with more data and reduced costs while growers reduce their sensor costs and water usage.”
A free satellite insights offer
To help companies get started with using satellite imagery, SpaceSense is launching a new “Space Agriculture Starter Pack”. This offer provides the possibility of digital farming companies to benefit up to 20 000 hectares of free satellite insights, through 9 vegetation indices. One goal is to develop new solutions by mixing satellite imagery with other sources of data.
This is exactly what Greenback accomplishes. This company which benefits from SpaceSense’s Space Agriculture Starter Pack is the first arable soil rating company. Quentin Sannié, its founder, explains that by combining field measurements and context data gathered from satellites, they can create a predictive model based on independently observed data. These models reduce costs for Greenback’s clients and facilitate their international deployment on large agricultural surfaces.
SpaceSense’s objective is to guide agricultural stakeholders in their satellital transition, while ensuring the value is still there for the grower at the end of the chain. Jérôme Nicolas, a cereal grower in France and tester of SpaceSense’s solution summarizes:” The democratization of satellite imagery as proposed by SpaceSense will certainly allow the generalization of precision agriculture usage at a really affordable price. I see in this technology and its large-scale vulgarization a way to get agriculture in the 21st century through creativity and intelligence, however artificial it may be”.