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Startup research aerial imaging up to detect disease in crops before outbreaks

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Ceres Imaging announced this week that the startup, which raised $5 million for its Series A fund back in May, will partner with an agricultural cooperative serving in five counties in central Illinois. The partnership is a test, which Ceres Imaging’s founder Ashwin Madgavkar hopes will help spread its technology across the United States.

Madgavkar said Ceres Imaging was inspired by his time working at large sugar cane farms in Brazil and Colombia, seeing how farmers would spray fertilizer and pesticides without taking into account effects on the soil or plants.

“This led to a lot of yield being left on the table and creating environmental damage,” Madgavkar said. “I saw a lot of inefficiency on how these decisions were made.”

Madgavkar then went to Stanford and was introduced to aerial imagery. He said using aerial imagery to collect data on the crops to make better decisions was a no-brainer.

“We are trying to use tech to help farms cope with changing environment,” Madgavkar said. “Farmers are beset by a variety of problems with extreme weathers like the fires in Southern California or hurricanes in Texas and Florida. And who knows when the drought will be back here? This is going to affect us all because we’ve all got to eat.”

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