General Session: Shark Tank

NAAA Shark Tank and Insurance Mock Trial

NAAA General Session Sponsored by Syngenta and AIG.

Hammerheads in the General Session? 

For the first time ever, there will be sharks at NAAA’s Ag Aviation Expo! As part of the General Session, NAAA will be putting on its very own Shark Tank show, highlighting some of the precision application technologies available for use in agricultural aviation. The NAAA has selected experienced ag aviation operators to play the role of sharks, who will question representatives of several precision ag companies about how their technology works and how it might benefit an agricultural aviation business. 

Our Sharks include Damon Reabe of Dairyland Aviation in Waupun, WI; Mike Schiffer of Al's Spraying Service in Ovid, MI and Rod Thomas of Thomas Helicopters in Gooding, ID.

Wes Hall with Air Tractor will be in the tank to spar with our sharks about how their Yield Defender UAS can be used to gather critical crop data. The drone is designed to specifically meet the needs of agriculture and can be used for field scouting and conducting a precision analysis of grower’s crops, including drought assessment. It is a quad multi-rotor drone, and includes a near infrared camera for taking high resolution images showing crop health, and software for both total flight management and post flight image processing and analysis.  

Mike Thurman with AgJunction-Satloc will be talking about how to make and use prescription maps to achieve more targeted applications, putting the right amount in the right place. Their MapStar software supports variable rate applications and prescription maps. It can be used before an application to map fields, pre-plan the route, and create a prescription map for a field with targeted rates for different sections of the field depending on the amount of agronomic input needed. It can also be used after an application is made to analyze application and flight data.

Ken Giles with Capstan Ag will discuss how pulse width modulation (PWM) technology can be used to control a wide variety of things on your spray system. PWM replaces the check valve on each nozzle with an electronically controlled solenoid valve. This valve can be used to vary the nozzle flow rate in response to aircraft speed changes, meaning the pressure would stay constant. Having an electronically controlled valve on each nozzle also allows for multiple boom configurations, all available from the cockpit

Bruce Woodcock with Aventech, who will explain how their AIMMS system can measure weather conditions in flight to keep your application on target. The AIMMS-20 and AIMMS-30 can both be used to measure wind speed and direction, temperature, and humidity. By checking the temperatures at different heights, the presence of an inversion can be determined. Weather data is displayed real time, used with spray drift models, and can be stored for later analysis and record keeping. 

Come watch our NAAA sharks and their prey circle the waters to pacify them as they discuss these exciting technologies, and see if any of them might have a place in your operation.

Michael Thurman is the Business Manager for Satloc. He has been with Ag Junction for 12 years. Of the those 12 years, 9 have been with Satloc. Michael holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Technical Management. 

AIR TRACTOR / YIELD DEFENDER: Wes Hall grew up in the small farming community of Elmwood, Illinois and developed an interest in aviation thanks to a life-long friend and neighbor who shared a similar interest. He obtained his A&P license prior to undergraduate studies at Southern Illinois University, and his pastime endeavors pertaining to cars and motorcycles led to his perpetual interest the aerospace industry, with an emphasis on composites and systems research and development. 

Wes worked at Boeing on various defense programs including Air Force One. His career progressed through the F16 and F35 programs at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics as a hydro-mechanical Systems Engineer. He also worked in Business Development for various aerospace companies. He started his own company and developed the Yield Defender Unmanned Aerial System for use in agriculture. 

Air Tractor, Inc. acquired his company and the Yield Defender program in 2016, and Wes is currently employed by Air Tractor as Vice-President, Unmanned Aerial Systems.

AVENTECH RESEARCH: Bruce Woodcock is the Director of Advanced Products Engineering and co-founder of Aventech Research Inc., a high-tech company which develops and manufactures instrumentation focusing on the aerial application, airborne research, airborne remote sensing and military Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) markets. Bruce obtained a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Engineering Physics from McMaster University (1984) followed by post-graduate work in the field of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Toronto. While there he obtained a Master of Applied Science degree in 1987. Before fully completing his post-doctoral work Bruce co-founded Aventech Research Inc. with Stephen Foster in 1995. Over the past 22 years he has been involved with developing three generations of AIMMS (Aircraft Integrated Meteorological Measurement System) technology, the AvSTAR (Aventech Satellite Tracking and Reporting) system, and more recently Air Data and Inertial Attitude Systems for military Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). 

CAPSTAN AG: Ken Giles is the inventor of pulse width modulation for agricultural sprayers and has worked in the technology since 1987.   Before that, he worked in orchard spraying, cotton spraying and electrostatic spraying.  He grew up on a dairy farm in Georgia, was a 4-H’er and a Boy Scout and attended the University of Georgia and Clemson University, where he received his Ph.D.  He is a co-founder of Capstan Ag Systems, Inc. and also Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering at the University of California, Davis.  He holds over 30 patents in the field of agricultural spraying and is a Fellow in the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. He is an instrument-rated, commercial pilot and enjoys running, biking and flying a 206 Stationair.