Robbie Bunge (PhD, AA), Ashwin Madgavkar (MBA/MS, GSB/E-IPER), Robert Heilmayr (PhD, E-IPER) and Prof. Peter Vitousek (Biology)
Ceres Imaging uses aerial spectral imagery to help farmers optimize water use and avoid excess application of nitrogen fertilization, which can cause unnecessary groundwater contamination, CO2 emissions, and unnecessary expense. Cameras that photograph both visible and invisible light are attached to crop dusters, other planes, or drones. Ceres' software processes the data and supplies farmers with actionable information in an affordable package.
The Innovation Transfer Grant supported the “Demeter” adaptation of the technology to help ranchers develop the best grazing plan based on available vegetation. The ranching application uses several different pieces of spectral information to calculate grass growth, grazing intensity, and water-retention capacity. The technology can be used to monitor and synchronize herd movement with natural rangeland recovery, which is the basis of holistic ranching. Pasture land accounts for 450 million acres in the United States and several billion acres globally. This represents a huge opportunity to save resources with an affordable service that could replace the energy intensive, inefficient, manual screening processes now used. Since receiving their TomKat Grant, Ceres has raised nearly $9 million in follow-on funding.
Ceres Imaging named to 2017 Energy Excelerator cohort February 2017