Like the growers we serve, Ceres Imaging’s scientists and analysts never stop looking for opportunities to improve. We continuously refine our imagery and analytics tools based on input from customers, ongoing research, and evolving techniques in machine learning.
As the 2020 season gets underway, Ceres Imaging customers will benefit from improvements to two of our flagship products: the Chlorophyll Index and Water Stress Index.
Compared with the 2019 imagery (left), the Chlorophyll Index in 2020 (right) reduces interference from other factors to help growers home in on crop nitrogen status.
Chlorophyll Index improvements in the 2020 season make it easier to identify potential nitrogen deficiencies.
While traditional NDVI imagery measures canopy density, Ceres Imaging’s Chlorophyll Index provides insights into canopy quality. Growers use the assessment of plant chlorophyll levels to inform nutrient strategies and address underlying deficiencies before they impact the health of the crop.
Chlorophyll content reflects a variety of factors, including the availability of macronutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) and micronutrients (such as iron, magnesium, and zinc). Of all these factors, nitrogen deficiency is the most likely cause of low chlorophyll levels.
While this close relationship between chlorophyll and nitrogen levels has been well researched in annuals like corn and soybeans, existing data on perennial crops is limited. To help fill this gap in the existing literature, Ceres Imaging’s in-house research team designed new studies of almonds, pistachios, and grapes. The results informed this season’s upgrades to our chlorophyll classification to better account for seasonal variations in nitrogen content and ensure that the colors shown in imagery reflect meaningful differences in plant health.
Water Stress Index
In 2019 imagery (left), low air temperatures and high humidity sometimes masked differences in transpiration rates early in the season. In 2020 imagery (right), this issue is resolved.
The upgraded Water Stress Index is now more sensitive to differences between plants, especially early in the season. The improvements benefit farm managers who compare water stress imagery from throughout the season to evaluate the effect of management decisions over time.
The Water Stress Index helps growers visualize variability in plant transpiration across a field and is Ceres Imaging’s preferred tool for irrigation issue detection and optimization. Its foundation is our scientific-grade thermal imagery, which is sensitive to temperature differences as small as 0.1 degree Celsius between plants.
How these temperature differences relate to plant transpiration—a useful indicator for plant stress—depends on factors like air temperature, humidity, and sunlight intensity. For the 2020 season, we’ve refined our models for combining this type of weather data and improved our thermal cameras to more accurately reflect conditions on the ground.
Weather conditions aren’t the only variables we consider to ensure consistent, high-quality imagery: imagery may also be affected by farm activity. With that in mind, we’ve made additional upgrades to prevent water stress data from being skewed by active irrigation at the time of imagery capture.
Have questions about what these imagery upgrades mean for you—or an interest in participating in our next research study? Get in touch with your Ceres Imaging representative, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.