Potatoes rank high on the list of the most important crop foods in the world. More than 156 countries produce potatoes whereas more than a billion people eat potatoes regularly. In the United States, potatoes are the leading vegetable crop. At least 60% of potato production goes to the processing market, and the rest is distributed between the retail and wholesale markets. According to the NASS report from June 2022, potato processors in the 8 States used 195 million cwt of potatoes for the season. The revenue of the potato industry is expected to reach 10.557 billion USD by 2025.
Black Gold Farms is one of the US’s large geographically diverse potato producers. They grow chipping potatoes and sweet potatoes on hundreds of fields in 8 states, and they use Agremo’s Plant Counting product to obtain accurate information about stand counts on every field. As an industry leader with more than 600 employees on 16000 acres. At this scale, Black Gold Farms is constantly evolving and adapting new technologies. Their motto “Digging deeper is more than words- it’s a way of life” that speaks for itself. They are committed to producing good food and at the same time, they are using their resources wisely and sustaining fertile soils. Thanks to a network of skilled individuals who nurture long-term relationships with suppliers and customers, Black Gold Farms successfully produces high-value agricultural products.
Before turning to precision agriculture technology, the Black Gold Farms team relied on traditional methods for measuring stand establishment. Three years ago, they decided to test the Agremo system for plant stands. Since 2020, the number of fields surveyed by drones and analyzed by Agremo’s image software has rapidly increased to include 100 % of their potato production. With Agremo field analytics AI software they can measure all plants and get the full picture of the field conditions. Agremo provides data collection and analysis that Black Gold Farms uses to compare which seeding density and seed type will result in the most successful stand establishment.
As they have different seeding densities and forms of seed per field, it is essential to measure the success rate and what drives it.
Drone, map, and Agremo app – Black Gold Farms was provided with the flight list containing scheduled drone flights for 226 potato fields and Agremo supported the whole data collection process. Agremo organized the training to show them how to use the app, draw annotations, and how to transform SHP files from John Deere Operations Center to the SHP files supported by the Agremo app. That included creating an entire in-house workflow for the conversion of seeding maps into field boundaries on individual management zones.
Stand Count analysis– As every field had more than one variety and many were planted with different seeding densities, Stand Count was requested for each unique area of a field. With this analysis results, it was possible to locate the areas with lower-performing stands and adjust farming activities in those parts of the field that needed additional or special care. In that way, they could optimize fertilizer and water inputs.
Precision planting– Drone imagery provided our client with a complete picture of fields and their condition. Knowing what parts of the field to exclude and what percentage of the seeds are becoming productive plants is valuable information when working in the seed development program.
Yield prediction– By using Agremo’s Plant Counting product, they have a more accurate understanding of the stand composition dynamics. In that way, they know what is producing their ultimate yield and how the number of plants in the field influences the finished size profile that they sell to the customers.
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Thanks to drone imagery and Agremo analytics, our long-term partner Black Gold Farms can better understand every acre of their land through this comprehensive inventory method (through a continuous improvement process Black Gold and Agremo partnered to reduce the time necessary to establish the internal field boundaries). They have gained a clearer understanding of what seed sources and what seed types perform best in their production environments. That ability to track the highly productive seeds gives our client more success in the potato production process. This information will result in our client shifting 20% of their seed crop to a more strategic size. They expect to eliminate or reduce lower-producing seeds by 20% and shift the form of seed they plant by 30%.
With Agremo’s Plant Counting analytics, Black Gold Farms has obtained the quantitative data of the whole field. The primary value is understanding how the stand performance translates to finished tuber size, quality, and yield outcomes. A high-quality measurement of plant population based on AI technology and drones gives Black Gold Farms guidance in what direction they should go when it comes to optimizing potato production. Having complete and accurate information pays off big time.
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