Drones in Agriculture with senseFly Ag Expert Martin Scheiber

senseFly is on a mission to help farmers everywhere with its drone technology. UAVs, like the eBee SQ and eBee X, provide agriculture professionals with the insights they need to make better decisions about their crops. Waypoint sat down with senseFly’s agriculture expert, Martin Scheiber, to further understand this industry, the role drone technology plays in agriculture and how he earned the title “ag expert”.

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Martin holds an eBee Plus outside senseFly’s headquarters in Cheseaux-sur-Lausanne, Switzerland.

Hi, Martin! Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

Agriculture has always been part of my life – other than my studies, which focused on geography. Growing up, I was surrounded by farming because my father was an agriculture engineer and a farming teacher. All my relatives on my father’s side were farmers, too, so I’ve been learning about this industry since I was a kid.

My working assignments have all been in the field of agriculture. I’ve traveled to places like Peru and Laos to study agriculture and forestry. Before I started at senseFly, I worked as a project manager for precision farming projects at a public research institute in Germany.

How and when did you get started with senseFly?

Four years ago, I was working on a project in cooperation with a large agrochemical company called BASF. I attended a flight demonstration that senseFly performed for them and was very impressed with the capabilities of the eBee.

A few months later, someone from senseFly contacted me to see if I’d be interested in bringing my agriculture and drone experience to the team. Because I had been so impressed with what I saw during the demo for BASF, I decided to leave everything in Germany behind and move to Switzerland to join senseFly.

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Martin takes calibration images before flying an eBee Plus with a Parrot Sequoia sensor to assess the health of mangroves in Zanzibar.

What does your average day at work look like?

Since I’m the ag expert, I’m approached by different departments to provide industry knowledge. I support the product management team in designing and creating new products. The sales department approaches me for help on presentations, talking to prospects and showing our clients what can be done with our technology in agriculture. I also help the marketing team with ag-related webinars and marketing material.

Because I’m based with the customer service and support team, most of my work is answering customer requests – focusing in agriculture, of course. I’m the expert for everything, hardware and software, for our product in agriculture applications. I’m also “the ag guy” at booths, trade shows and conferences. Basically, if there is any agriculture knowledge needed, I’m there to provide it.

What is your favorite thing about working at senseFly?

One thing I really enjoy about senseFly is that we’re working with such new technology. In the drone remote-sensing sector, we’re at the forefront. We’re always handling the newest material available, on a global scale, which is very cool.

I enjoy watching how the technology evolves. Just in the four years I’ve worked at senseFly, things have already changed. Seeing how new things become possible is cool.

It seems like everyone at senseFly shares the same passion for drones and the drone industry. What about drone technology are you most passionate about?

Something that has impressed me from the beginning is the drone’s autonomy—its ability to do everything by itself. Before I joined senseFly, I thought flying a drone meant standing somewhere with a remote control. Automating the process optimizes everything and makes it easier for users to operate.

From an agriculture prospective, what’s interesting to me is going beyond the visual things. The  multispectral and thermal cameras we offer can capture things that can’t be seen with human eyes. We can analyze the health of plants with technology that goes beyond what we can see. This is something I find very fascinating. Technology can get you further than someone who is standing in the field next to the plant to tell you about the plant’s status. That’s really cool!

Where do you see the drone industry heading in the next 3-5 years?

The drone industry has been booming the past few years, so I see the industry developing further into even more applications.

In agriculture, we will continue to develop and expand into this market. In comparison to industries like surveying and mining, agriculture is a step behind. But we will go further to develop this market, to show farmers that with our technology, we can help them with their daily work. By expanding into this market, we can help farmers around the world.

Thank you so much for talking with us today, Martin!

You’re welcome.

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