This startup uses machine learning and satellite imagery to predict crop yields

(Descartes Labs) Tweet Share Mark Johnson wants to beat the United States Department of Agriculture at its own game: predicting yields of America’s crops. The USDA puts boots on the ground, deploying hundreds of workers to survey thousands of farms a month ahead of the October corn harvest, America’s biggest crop. Johnson’s startup, Descartes Labs, has just 20 employees, and they never leave the office in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Instead, Descartes relies on 4 petabytes of satellite imaging data and a machine learning algorithm to figure out how healthy the corn crop is from space. Corn yield prediction is big business in the US. Billions of dollars are at stake along the ag supply chain each year as corn starts to come out of the ground in August. Grain elevator…


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