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Corteva, Planet Labs to advance collection of big data on farms

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Agriculture companies and farmers are all racing to find ways to collect and crunch big data.

By Elizabeth Elkin

Corteva Inc. will use Planet Labs Inc.’s satellite imaging products to get more data that’s key to boosting crop health and productivity.

The companies signed a three-year agreement that advances a four-year-old partnership, Jim Thomason, vice president of imagery products at Planet Labs, said in an interview. The deal will allow the companies to scale up their collection of so-called precision farming data using Planet’s latest technology.

Corteva, one of the world’s biggest seed and agriculture chemical companies, is already monitoring about 600,000 fields with the service. Other major agriculture players like Bayer AG, BASF and Syngenta are also using the technology, as is the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

“We can drive better practices, better management, more predictability for the farmers, and for all of us, for food security,” Thomason said.

Agriculture companies and farmers are all racing to find ways to collect and crunch big data, which is seen as the next frontier in increasing farm productivity. They’re using everything from sensors that record soil moisture and weather conditions in fields to high resolution images that detect plant diseases and other issues.

Planet’s latest technology fills data gaps satellite images have, such as those caused by cloudy days, by bringing multiple views of the Earth into a single layer of data, Thomason said. 

The firm founded in 2010 by three NASA scientists is going public as part of a deal that values the company at around $2.8 billion. 

“One of our biggest core tenants going forward is around enabling the sustainability market, and one of the leading industries into these sustainability trends is agriculture,” Thomason said.

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