In May 2018, Farmers Edge and Boundless presented “Building an Imagery Processing Pipeline (at Scale) Using Open Source and Standards” at FOSS4G North America in St. Louis.
Each growing season, farmers might make as many as 50 key decisions – about what crop to grow, when to plant, whether or not to use fertilizer – any of which can end up affecting crop yield, as well as the bottom line.
In the past, farmers made these important decisions based on historical patterns, tradition, or even by talking shop with neighboring growers and other people in the know. Today, agriculture – just like hundreds of other industries – increasingly relies on technology and data for more informed decision-making.
Canada-based precision agriculture company Farmers Edge helps farmers around the globe use technology and data to effectively manage their farms, while increasing productivity and profitability. Farmers Edge creates variable rate prescription maps based on satellite imagery to assist farmers in applying the correct amount of fertilizer to their fields. Over time, the company also incorporated farm data – realizing that with more information, Farmers Edge can help solve more issues for farmers.
The challenge: High-velocity, high-volume geospatial data
More information sounds like a good thing, right? On the surface, it is. However, it’s essential to understand that in modern agriculture, data flows from a number of sources, including machine telemetry, weather stations and ground sensors, soil samples, ground observations, and satellites and drones. While it’s true this information accumulates quickly and occupies a lot of server space – and those issues do challenge many organizations – it also requires serious computing power to understand how all those different types of data relate to one another, and to extract valuable business insights from those relationships.
The legacy processing system in place at Farmers Edge simply wasn’t able to handle the volume and velocity of inbound data. In addition to challenges with scalability, the system was also not flexible enough to handle multiple data types. There were also issues with cataloging and finding processed data, as well as concerns about costs related to growing customer demand and data volumes.
The solution: A scalable, highly responsive system in the cloud
With these challenge in mind, Farmers Edge anticipated the need for a big data platform capable of handling large volumes of data and imagery, and worked with Boundless to architect a solution that included Boundless Server Enterprise as the foundation. With the deployment of the resulting platform, Farmers Edge realized its strategic vision for a scalable and highly responsive cloud-based system designed to handle considerable data, imagery, and computing demands. The company is now equipped to use resources more efficiently, avoid variable costs where possible, and be flexible in the face of unforeseen circumstances.
Geospatial big data goes beyond the ability to simply accumulate and store large amounts of static data. Rather, it represents a change in how data is used to create actionable insight and anticipate approaching challenges and opportunities. Much like Farmers Edge evolved its original mission, the company is now evolving the way it uses geospatial data – all to the benefit of its customers around the world.