“Identifying and solving problems was slower before I used Ceres Imaging. I can catch issues a week sooner with their aerial imagery.”
Josh Bonds, DCB Farming

DCB Farming grows tomatoes on approximately 4,000 acres with only a handful of employees. For this reason, efficiency on the farm is paramount: the small team is always looking for ways to minimize the time and resources spent in problem-solving.

tomatoes in trucks
Crop Type
Merced County, California
$172,000 in irrigation system savings

The problem

Of all the crops that farm manager Josh Bonds works with over the course of the year, he considers tomatoes the most demanding—and temperamental. Getting water and nutrients to each plant exactly when they’re needed is pivotal in ensuring the health of the fruit. So when Josh began to notice some of the crop showing stress at a ranch with a brand new irrigation system, he knew he needed to resolve the issue quickly.

The solution

Fortunately, Josh had begun using weekly flights by Ceres Imaging to inform his irrigation strategy. “After the first flight I could see from the Water Stress Index that the irrigation system was poorly designed,” Josh says. Layering the real-time imagery over the irrigation design maps removed any doubt that the problem was related to the new installation. “I was able to prove the system was affecting plant health, and we collected $172,000 from the irrigation company to correct the problem.”

In addition to helping him resolve major incidents like this one, Ceres Imaging allows Josh to fine-tune water dispersal to improve crop quality and uniformity—a challenge in water-sensitive tomatoes. “If you put out too much water you have lower Brix, and you get deducted,” Josh explains. “If you pull back on water the Brix will typically be higher, but the yield is lower.”

The insights offered by Ceres Imaging’s Water Stress Index mean Josh can perform this balancing act with confidence, making informed decisions down to a single plant. He’s able to implement his decisions even with a small team, because imagery allows him to structure the workday around the highest-priority issues.

“Ceres Imaging can fly all 4,000 acres in a day,” says Josh. “When I’ve used other aerial imagery companies in the past, that would have taken a week. The speed of the flights and the quick turnaround time on images has made me more efficient, giving me more time to focus on the real issues and increase the quality of our crop.”

The outcome

DCB Farming collected $172,000 for redress of a faulty irrigation system—and improved crop quality and uniformity.

Some variations in water stress correspond to differences in topography and soil type—but a linear stress pattern like this can indicate a drip irrigation issue.
If you’re going to invest in imagery, use Ceres Imaging: nothing else compares. When you zoom in the pixels are really clear. I can’t get over how precisely it pinpoints an issue—it’s just very detailed.”
Josh Bonds, Farm Manager

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