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Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly

Episode 136: VC hype vs. Wall Street

Oct 22, 2019

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Marketplace Tech

How photos taken from the sky are helping farmers

Andie Corban and Kai Ryssdal Oct 4, 2019
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An aerial image of a cucumber farm in Romania.
Patrick Pluel/Getty Images

Technology is changing the way most of us work these days, and farming is no exception. There are several new ag-tech companies dedicated solely to making agriculture more efficient. Kai Ryssdal spoke with Lauren Smiley, who wrote about the trend for the New York Times.

The farmers, she said, are aiming for what’s called precision agriculture. “You use just enough water, pesticide and fertilizer that a single crop needs to have maximum yields,” she said. “And no more.”

One ag-tech company flies planes over fields to take extremely detailed photos from the sky.

“All of this data is then sent through these algorithms to come up with a water stress index,” Smiley said. This gives farmers far more information than they could learn from the naked eye — it shows exactly which crops need more water or fertilizer.

Click the audio player above to hear the full interview.

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