General Session

Join us for the NAAA Ag Aviation Expo
December 7–10, 2020 ♦ Savannah, GA
Savannah Convention Center & Westin Savannah

Thank you, 2019 General Session speakers, Matthew Phillips and Ofir Schlam

The 2019 Ag Aviation Expo Nov. 18-21 featured the premiere trade show for agricultural aviation, great networking opportunities and a great lineup of speakers and events! The 2019 General Session will explored the future of the aerial application industry by examining trends in the global crop protection product industry and across agriculture. After that big-picture assessment of the global marketplace in the first half of the session, NAAA will take a closer look at aerial imaging as a diversification option for aerial applicators.

Dr. Matthew Phillips, a leading consultant and data analyst in the agrochemical and seeds industries, will lead off the General Session by providing his assessment of the global crop protection market and where companies are headed after a spate of mergers between the major crop protection product manufacturers has reshaped the industry.

Dr. Phillips earned a doctorate in animal metabolism and biochemistry from the University of Reading. At the outset of his career he worked on animal metabolism and residue studies for the registration of agrochemicals and veterinary products. Subsequently he became an analyst of agricultural input companies and markets for investment banks and agri-chemical companies. He co-founded Phillips McDougall, which became a leading consultancy and data analysis company in the agrochemical and seeds industries. Now Dr. Phillips is a consultant/advisor to AgbioInvestor providing news and analysis covering the global crop protection and seeds and traits industries.

Phillips is looking forward to sharing his research on the crop protection product industry and putting it into context for aerial applicators at the Ag Aviation Expo in Orlando. 

Next during the 2019 Ag Aviation Expo General Session will be Ofir Schlam, co-founder & CEO of Taranis, an international agricultural remote sensing and imaging company. Similar to other ag imaging companies, Taranis utilizes satellites, manned aircraft, and UAVs to provide images of various resolutions. Satellite images provide lower-resolution images over a large area, while manned aircraft are used to collect higher-resolution images with more detail for smaller areas.

What makes Taranis unique, however, is its low-level scouting sampling. This imaging is conducted at low altitudes just above the crop. Rather than attempt to image the entire field at this level, images are instead taken systematically across the field. This is like any other type of IPM scouting program, except the Taranis method generates far more sampling points in much less time. The images from the satellites, higher-resolution imaging, and low-level scouting are used together to create a detailed image of field conditions and plant health.
The exciting part is that the low-level scouting imagery can be used to identify and map pests. These maps just don’t indicate a field has a pest problem—they identify exactly what that pest is, whether it be insects, weeds and diseases. All are identified by Taranis and they map it for the grower. A digital map showing pest type, location and density can be created and used to make informed decisions on when and where applications should be made. Prescription maps for variable rate applications can be easily developed from the images and data.

While that sounds amazing, the most exciting part is the potential for agricultural aircraft to be a part of this program. Currently GA aircraft and UAVs are being used to capture the scouting level images. The low-level nature of these images, however, is perfectly suited to being captured by agricultural aircraft. Taranis is currently developing a pod that can be mounted on agricultural aircraft for this very purpose. 

This could lead to a new revenue source for aerial applicators where ag pilots would simply fly the field, take the images and send them to Taranis for processing. There is no need to learn how to operate complicated software for image processing or map creation. That is all handled by Taranis.

The potential also exists for an aerial operation to become more than just the source of the images. A precision application of a pesticide begins with scouting the field to identify the pest and determine the best option for control and ends when the application is made. Agricultural aircraft have traditionally and obviously played the end role. If they can be utilized at the beginning to scout the field, perhaps aerial applicators can become more involved in the entire pesticide application process and offer their customers a complete pest control solution. Come listen to Taranis at the 2019 General Session and see if its technology has a potential place in your operation.

Taranis CEO, Ofir Schlam is a fourth-generation farmer. Raised in Israel, he comes from a family of farmers who have grown cotton and wheat for the last four generations. His professional career started when he began his B.Sc. in Math & Computer Science at the age of 16 as part of a program for outstanding students at BIU and graduated Summa Cum Laude at the age of 19. For his military service, Ofir served in an elite technological unit of the Prime Minister's Office, where he was involved in developing and leading ground-breaking technology projects. During that time he also earned his M.Sc in cryptography at age of  22. Ofir moved up in the organization and in his last position before starting Taranis he managed an R&D department of 15 software engineers on classified projects. Ofir and his three co-founders started Taranis in 2015 with a mission to help farmers protect their crops more efficiently.