A Southern California-based firm is leading the charge to provide advanced machine learning and software analytics techniques to global agribusinesses. Through their ClearAg product set, Santa Ana-based Iteris helps deliver improved crop production operations in a number of domains, from helping researchers manage the efficacy of biological and chemical agents in field trials, to determining how to maximize resources in a drought, ClearAg delivers the power of data science, software analytics, and beautifully designed products to modern agriculture.
ClearAg® provides growers with weather, water, soil, and crop health information critical to the complex decision-making that takes place in crop production. Whether a farmer is deciding how to prioritize equipment based on field accessibility or when the optimal time is for a spray application, ClearAg can help farmers and agribusinesses alike, maximize their investments and resources.
In recent months, Lolay has worked closely with Iteris to extend the ClearAg system directly to growers through the precision farming app, ClearAg Mobile. A market leader in developing digital agribusiness technologies to support farmers in their management of stable and sustainable crop production, Lolay designed ClearAg Mobile to ensure farmers can easily access water, soil, and crop growth information to better understand the impact of these resources on the crop and it’s health. As a result, ClearAg Mobile can help guide growers’ decisions throughout the cropping season.
For an in depth understanding of Iteris’ ClearAg portfolio, Lolay sat down with Iteris’ Senior Vice President Tom Blair to chat about the company and it’s game-changing technology.
Could you tell us a little about Iteris?
Iteris is a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange under the stock symbol ITI. It operates in three segments:
Roadway Sensors – focuses on intersection and roadway vehicular detection sensors and cameras
Transportation Systems – provides local, state, and federal agencies with traffic management consulting services
Performance Analytics – specializes in weather-related data and analytics software products
My team is the Performance Analytics software team that consists of over 100 folks, of which 80 are computer and data scientists, meteorologists and agronomic scientists.
How did Iteris come to launch ClearAg?
Iteris has provided pavement-level weather forecasting to the snow and ice community for almost two decades through the ClearPath Weather software product. Federal, state, and local transportation agencies have used our road-weather technology to provide prescriptive treatment recommendations for transportation networks. For more than a decade, Iteris has also been an agriculture weather provider to companies including Monsanto, Bayer, BASF, FMC, and Syngenta through our WeatherPlot product.
Having tested and implemented this technology for the last 17 years, Iteris has doubled down, investing heavily in infrastructure software and science that allow us to sell our unique products and software services to a wide set of agribusiness sectors on a global basis.
What is the motivation behind ClearAg?
Global agriculture touches every person on the planet. Food, fiber, and fuel are all derivative products of agriculture that help drive this $5 trillion per year global industry. Through ClearAg, Iteris is committed to providing information solutions for data-driven decisions that help agribusinesses maximize resources and optimize the performance of farming operations.
From a geographical and data perspective, it doesn’t matter if we’re providing decision support for a snow plow operator or growers – both must make the most of time and investments; both are impacted by weather; and both have anticipated results. It’s the same problem, just different semantic domains.
What would you say is the difference between ClearAg and other competing precision farming apps?
For more than a decade, Iteris has helped Crop Protection companies, Crop Insurance companies, Allied Providers and Growers to understand the impact of the environment on their operations. Iteris is a public company with a strong balance sheet; we are not a venture-funded startup. With a very strong patent portfolio in the agronomic sciences, being an operating weather company, and supplying both API and Application access to our weather, water, soil, and crop health services, we are well differentiated from the competition.
The ClearAg product offering is also a machine learning-based, adaptive agronomics engine. At its core, the ClearAg system employs proprietary modeling techniques to leverage publicly developed land surface models for agronomic purposes. In addition to providing weather, water, and soil information, we also provide the topology of the land and soil type. With the adaptive system, ClearAg uses historical and real-time performance monitoring and statistical evaluations to compensate for known model biases. The system dynamically evaluates the recent performance of each model and weighs or selects them based on their performance. And we do this on a global basis. There are currently no competitors with the scale, adaptability, and global reach of the ClearAg offering.
And finally, ClearAg is a customizable platform that allows you to leverage your own crop models, disease models, or nutrient models, in addition to our precision ClearAg content for your own applications. In March, ClearAg will be available on iOS through an app designed by Lolay. Our well-designed app will bring the power and reach of the ClearAg platform to those who need it to define, defend, and manage their operations.
Aside from the app, do you have any other new features in the pipeline for ClearAg?
When you have 80 scientists and they’re all smart and working really hard, good things will always brew up.
We have compliance and product performance applications to come. For example, when you apply a chemical to your crops, in certain states, there are laws that dictate information you need to provide about that application and we already have a compliance application for the state of Ohio.
Also, we’re working on biological analysis. Biologicals are naturally occurring organisms that live in the soil layer –fungal and bacterial agents that can benefit crop growth, disease resistance and drought tolerance. People can use ClearAg to monitor the temperature moisture of soil to ensure the survival of these biologicals. Biological companies are starting to take advantage of this, and more good things will come from ClearAg in this area next year.
We’re also continuing to expand our international coverage with ClearAg; in the near future we will be launching our mobile app in Europe, South America, and Australia.
Lastly, what message would you tell potential customers who are thinking about using a data-driven approach to agriculture?
I’d suggest they consider an adaptive, open product. There are always new technologies coming out and the world is changing rapidly. Like any business, global agriculture needs the ability to analyze this information to make the most informed decisions at the right place and the right time. You need an adaptive product to back you up in this dynamic environment. Things will always change but what doesn’t change is your need to analyze all this different information.
ClearAg Mobile is currently in beta testing and will be generally available in March 2016. Growers interested in testing or purchasing ClearAg Mobile are encouraged to contact email@example.com.