90–100% Production Loss: Drone Operators Help Caribbean Farmers with Damage Assessment after Hurricane Maria

Only two weeks after Hurricane Irma, another catastrophe hit the Caribbean islands: Hurricane Maria.

Hundreds have died and many are still missing. And so far, the damages have amounted to over $50 billion, some even talk about $80 or $100 billion (November 2017).

Puerto Rico suffered in particular. According to Fortune.com, at least 85% of the total damages from Hurricane Maria occurred in Puerto Rico. “Everything collapsed simultaneously,” said Puerto Rico’s governor director of safety and public protection Héctor Pesquera. Cellphone towers, the banking system, the power grids — everything went down at once,” he explained according to the Washington Post.

Even two months after the Hurricane hit the island, most people have no proper power supply: “[the power system] is not working in more than 50% of the island. This is affecting family, business and economy,” says Ramón Pagán, drone operator and business owner from Puerto Rico.

According to him, the damages Hurricane Maria caused in agriculture are devastating. In the past weeks, Ramón has met and worked with banana, mango and coffee growers who lost between 90 and 100 percent of their production. And unfortunately, it’s not just Puerto Rico: growers in Dominica, Guadeloupe and many other countries affected by Hurricane Maria share the very same fate.

“The farmers’ and the field workers’ life was affected dramatically. Farmers lost 100% of their production.” — Ramón Pagán

How Can Drones Help Farmers in the Caribbean after Hurricane Maria?

One of the most important things after such an event is a professional damage assessment.

There are two main reasons why damage assessments in agriculture are important. First, drone imagery can act as evidence in insurance claims, especially if there are images of how a fields looked like before the damage occurred. And second, drone images of fields let farmers see how much loss they are facing at this point in time.

Afterwards, drone analyses can track and evaluate how the plants are responding to treatment and count how many new plants have emerged.

Today, this is done with the help of drone operators, who capture fields from above and analyze the images with software solutions like Agremo. It’s easy to do and has many benefits.

How Drone Operators Assess Damages in Agriculture

Ramón is already doing it.

He has been using drone data and Agremo analyses since 2016 to help farmers count and analyze plants. And after Hurricane Maria, Ramón analyzed a banana plantation for Martex farms, a Puerto Rico-based company specialized in growing tropical fruits.

Martex farms requested one of the Agremo plant counting analyses to see:

  1. How many plants they have lost compared to previous plant counting analyses
  2. How many plants are left on the field for the next harvest.

In our recent article on using drones in agriculture, we’ve talked about Ramón’s drone business CaribeDrones and how he uses drone data and Agremo analyses to help farmers and agronomists add more value to their business.

And after Hurricane Maria, using drone data in agriculture showed its worth once again. Ramón performed the suggested analysis for Martex Farms and obtained rather shocking results.

The plant stress analysis of the farmer’s banana plantation revealed that 97% of the farmers’ field was irreversibly damaged by Hurricane Maria:

And in this case, “irreversibly damaged” means that this year’s production of this field will be next to zero.

But why and how is this data helpful?

Martex Farms know about the benefits of regular drone-based plant health monitoring. Besides having full insights on his plant’s overall health and accurate number, they have solid proof of how their fields are doing throughout the season. And this data is particularly important for insurance claims after disasters such as Hurricane Maria. Drone data is visual proof of how healthy your plants have been prior to the event.

Can we do something to help Caribbean Farmers?

Yes we can! By simply sharing this post on social media.

This way, we spread awareness on this kind of technology and help Caribbean farmers get back on track as soon as possible.

After all, Caribbean fruits are exported to the entire world. Caribbean agriculture depends on us just as much as we depend on their beautiful products.

Share this post on social media via the icons to help us reach as many Hurricane victims as possible!

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  • After introducing mapping and crop analysis reports to farmers, they could see their field from another perspective. Agremo is helping us bring essential information to farmers which were impossible to get until recently.

    Ramón Pagán

    Mapping Expert and President @ Caribe Drones // Puerto Rico

  • Agremo’s map is more specific. Competitors break their maps into half-acre grids, but Agremo colors the whole thing exactly how it is. Visually, it’s night and day. A lot of farmers are visual.

    Corey Nohl

    Drone Operator and Farmer @ Above All Aerial // MN, USA

  • With Agremo reports, farmers they can increase productivity, reduce major problems by having early warnings during the early stages of the crops preventing major losses. Bottom line, increase ROI while minimizing losses.

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    General Manager & Mapping Expert @ Ansar Drone // Mexico

  • The best thing about the plant population reports is the accuracy, which is splendid and it is very important! Great service at eye level with the customer!

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  • The biggest benefit for farmers who use drones and Agremo reports is that they increase their yields, reduce costs or improve their productivity. In the end, all these benefits are lead to extra profits.

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  • Of the few vendors who advertised drone imagery analytics, Agremo provided a vastly superior capability. It is extremely important to base any remote sensing assessment in solid ground truth. Agremo clearly excelled over their competitors.

    Konrad Kern

    Image Scientist @ Falcon Aerial Data // USA

  • Agremo Stand Count analysis shows how successful seeding was and how many plants farmers will be able to harvest. Withal, it can help to apply different sowing standards in different parts of the plot, in order to achieve the highest yields.

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    Agroservice and Product Manager (Maize and Oil Crops), KWS SAAT AG

  • Since we ran our first report with Agremo, both our company and our customers continue to be impressed with the accuracy of the reports compared to our ground truthing. We have leveraged many Agremo reports but find the most value in crop health, weed and stand count analyses. We continue to leverage the Agremo intelligence as a proven way to improve our customers’ bottom line.

    Jeff Buyck

    VP of Precision Ag C&B

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    What precision agriculture activities do you need?

    • Plant Stress

      • identify and quantify zones of (potential) stress
      • act timely with the most adequate measures
      • increase yield potential
    • Weed Detection

      • spot weed-infested areas in time
      • take immediate effective in-season corrective measures
      • get precise spraying maps
    • Green Snap Detection

      • identify and classify areas with broken plants in the field
      • locate and quantify the crop damage
    • Lodging Detection

      • detect and classify areas with lodged plants
      • locate and quantify the crop damage
    • Stand Count

      • get the precise number of plants in a specific area
      • evaluate seed quality
      • assess field damages
      • know the zones of potential yield losses
    • VRS Stand Count

      • calculate the percentage under the norm in each zone with the same seeding rate
      • reduce input costs in the low-productivity field areas
      • count plants in the best and the worst zones
    • Plant Vigor

      • get data on the exact location, condition, strength, and lushness of vegetation
      • optimize the usage of inputs, save on them and prevent over-application
    • Waterlogging Detection

      • quickly and accurately locate all potential waterlogged areas in your field
      • reduce the negative effects of waterlogging, regardless of the field size and crop sort
    • Hail Damage

      • analyze the percentage of areas damaged by hail or other bad weather events
      • evaluate different levels of damage in the field
      • assess crop damage precisely
    • Canopy Cover

      • get vital data on vegetation conditions and primary plant productivity
      • get the necessary details regarding the leaf area index (LAI)
      • determine the most optimal LAI for the fruits, vegetables, or cereals

       

    • Plant Stress

      • identify and quantify zones of (potential) stress
      • act timely with the most adequate measures
      • increase yield potential
    • Weed Detection

      • spot weed-infested areas in time
      • take immediate effective in-season corrective measures
      • get precise spraying maps
    • Green Snap Detection

      • identify and classify areas with broken plants in the field
      • locate and quantify the crop damage
    • Lodging Detection

      • detect and classify areas with lodged plants
      • locate and quantify the crop damage
    • Stand Count

      • get the precise number of plants in a specific area
      • evaluate seed quality
      • assess field damages
      • know the zones of potential yield losses
    • VRS Stand Count

      • calculate the percentage under the norm in each zone with the same seeding rate
      • reduce input costs in the low-productivity field areas
      • count plants in the best and the worst zones
    • Plant Vigor

      • get data on the exact location, condition, strength, and lushness of vegetation
      • optimize the usage of inputs, save on them and prevent over-application
    • Waterlogging Detection

      • quickly and accurately locate all potential waterlogged areas in your field
      • reduce the negative effects of waterlogging, regardless of the field size and crop sort
    • Hail Damage

      • analyze the percentage of areas damaged by hail or other bad weather events
      • evaluate different levels of damage in the field
      • assess crop damage precisely
    • Canopy Cover

      • get vital data on vegetation conditions and primary plant productivity
      • get the necessary details regarding the leaf area index (LAI)
      • determine the most optimal LAI for the fruits, vegetables, or cereals