About 25 years, a man named Lanny Faleide from Maddock, N.D., saw a change coming in field mapping. He built software to create variable- rate maps using satellite imagery to analyze fields to save money on chemical, seed and fertilizers. Since that humble beginning, Satshot has become a leader in the remote sensing industry and has a presence on every continent and now hosts well over 20 million acres worth of field boundaries in its system. After being in the ag tech industry for almost three decades, Faleide answered some questions on what he’s learned.
“To deliver, distribute and manage data associated to agriculture at a precise level, scale, and speed that helps farmers and their advisors work through the challenges they face throughout the world every day.”
Q: North Dakota is now recognized as a leader in as ag tech. You were one of the pioneers. Talk about being part of that legacy.
A: Since the settlement of this state, there has always been a pioneer spirit convincing us that we can do anything. That spirit was instilled into me through my ancestors who came to settle this land. Agriculture has always been a part of my life and having the privilege to see the first man walk on the moon live on TV when I was 12, led me to believe that space technologies could somehow be merged with agriculture. Learning to fly airplanes and seeing my fields from above also gave me a new perspective on how my crops grew. Bringing new imaging technologies to agriculture has always been in my mindset and having the opportunity to have an impact on world agriculture and food production using space technologies has been a very gratifying experience.
I have a coffee cup on my desk with the slogan:
“FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION” – Apollo 13 – Gene Kranz
That phrase has helped me believe in myself and fully understand how to ADAPT, not FAIL. Being recognized by NASA in 2000 and in 2016 on cloud-based imagery mapping technologies helped us realize that we were creating something truly unique.
Q: Being from a small town of Maddock, North Dakota, what challenges do you have nding employees that can handle the high tech nature of the job?
A: Because of the internet, I could actually have my main office in Fargo while living near Maddock on my farmstead for over 22 years. I really never had an issue with finding employees, largely because we were building state-of-the-art remote sensing satellite imagery technologies and the people we hired all appreciated the challenge. North Dakota’s work ethic is alive and well and the ability to adapt to the problems we faced has always been a strong feature of our rural culture. I think we had the best team in the upper midwest in GIS and remote sensing technologies for years, all from local areas.
Q: Being a legacy company in ag tech, what are you excited about in terms of Grand Farm opening?
A: I am very excited to see what new methods, processes and products come out of the Grand Farm project. I hope we can bring some insight into the project on what technologies are required and the benefits of each. But, the question will be, are the technologies scalable and can they be adopted by the average farm? A clear agronomic purpose must be implemented and it cannot be only technology for technology’s sake.
Q: Do you think having other up and coming ag tech startups will help your business grow?
A: Yes, they will help us grow and I am very encouraged with all the new levels of interest in the ag tech startup world. At the same time, many startups tend to believe that technology will solve agricultures issues, but, if the ag startup is just trying to disrupt without understanding the consequences of their actions then I think they will have a difficult road. An ag startup’s mission statement must include improving agriculture while, at the same time, helping the rural agriculture community it serves.
Q: Talk about what’s happening with your son taking over and the creation of Boundri Inc. What’s next for Satshot?
A: Nathan came back in a couple years ago and helped us make our company leaner and market sensitive. At the same time, he brought in new partnerships through Boundri to scale Satshot’s core advanced imagery technologies across other ag software platforms. We are also pursuing advanced satellite hyper-spectral and radar imagery to bring the next levels of imagery analytics to the ag market.
We strongly believe we are only touching the surface. It will be very interesting to see the next 25 years.
Satshot At Work
This image analysis is done using Satshot’s technology of Grand Farm’s actual 40-acres of farmland o I-29. It shows a high- resolution satellite at 1.5-meter resolution. This analysis shows different vegetation levels of crop growth. Green/light green is the best vegetation, yellow/gold is average and reds/blues are poor vegetation densities. The area in the middle of the field with all the reds and blues show the effects of piling dirt from the past construction of the nearby road intersection. In a regular field analysis, these vegetation zones represent areas that can be variable rate seeded, fertilized or sprayed based on the productive areas of the field for more efficient farming practices.