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Ceres Imaging Unveils Cumulative Stress Index

Ceres Imaging has released its new Cumulative Stress Index, which combines the company’s various imagery indices into a single metric to assess overall plant stress in a growing season and its correlation to actual yield results. A farmer can use this information to be strategic when using inputs to optimize yields and ensure his business is both profitable and sustainable.

When the company flies its planes over farms, it captures multiple spectrums of light, including visible, near-infrared, and thermal infrared data. It then combines this imagery and processes it using patented algorithms to extract insights about water, chlorophyll, and other stress indicators. This information is reported to customers over the course of a growing season. At the end of that season, the company combines these results to calculate a single Cumulative Stress Index.  

Testing the Index

Working with agronomists affiliated with the University of California’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension, Ceres Imaging demonstrated a strong correlation year over year between its Cumulative Stress Index and both applied water and yield.

“Findings over the last four years show that the average Ceres Imaging conductance measurement from its imagery over the season has provided the best correlation with applied water,” says Blake Sanden, a Kern County University of California Cooperative Extension farm adviser. “While there’s no perfect predictor of final yield, Ceres Imaging aerial sensing of canopy plant stress has a significant relationship with final yield.”

“Ceres Imaging has a lot of really good research with the University of California, Davis, to correlate cumulative water stress to relative yield loss,” adds Zac Ellis, a senior agronomist at Olam International. “It’s a very noninvasive way to measure ROI and figure out what my potential loss is and how much money I need to spend to fix a given problem."

The Index was released to a small group of commercial customers this past growing season. The results mirrored those found in research settings, and showed a strong correlation between the Cumulative Stress Index and actual yield results.

The Index was also used by a San Joaquin Valley almond grower to understand and respond to differences in yield between two adjacent fields. The two fields demonstrated an 8% to 10% difference on the Cumulative Stress Index. The management team confirmed that yield differences between the two fields matched the 8% to 10% difference in the indexes.

Drilling down into the various indexes, a soil difference contributing to some of the stress and corresponding yield differentials was noted. Using the Ceres Imaging Water Stress Index, it was also concluded that water stress was a major contributor to yield differentials and initiated a program to ensure optimal water application.

“The Cumulative Stress Index demonstrates the accuracy of our imagery measurements to year-end yield and brings us one step closer to precise yield forecasting capabilities,” says Ashwin Madgavkar, CEO of Ceres Imaging. “Our goal is to help farmers maximize their yields while being efficient with natural resources.”

The Cumulative Stress Index will be available for the 2019 growing season as part of the Ceres Imaging suite of analytics tools.

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