Bay Area aerial imaging startup teams up to detect disease in crops before outbreaks

Seung Lee for The Mercury News:  An Oakland-based startup is sending its aerial imaging technology to the Midwestern plains to help farmers detect pests and diseases in their corn and soybean fields before an outbreak.

Ceres Imaging announced Tuesday that the startup, which raised $5 million for its Series A fund back in May, will partner with an agricultural cooperative serving in five counties in central Illinois. The partnership is a test, which Ceres Imaging’s founder Ashwin Madgavkar hopes will help spread its technology across the United States.

Madgavkar said Ceres Imaging was inspired by his time working at large sugar cane farms in Brazil and Colombia, seeing how farmers would spray fertilizer and pesticides without taking into account effects on the soil or plants.

“This led to a lot of yield being left on the table and creating environmental damage,” said Madgavkar. “I saw a lot of inefficiency on how these decisions were made.”

Madgavkar then went to Stanford and was introduced to aerial imagery. He said using aerial imagery to collect data on the crops to make better decisions was a no-brainer.  Full Article:

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