What better way to understand the role drones play in agronomy and agriculture than from an agronomist himself? Waypoint sat down with senseFly’s Regional Manager of Latin America and the Caribbean, José Marchetti, to learn how he went from a career in farming to satellite imagery to drone technology — all while utilizing his education in agribusiness.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I’m an agronomy engineer with a master’s degree in agribusiness from UCEMA, a very well-known university in Buenos Aires. After finishing school, I stayed in Argentina for years working as an agronomist where I sold agri-chemicals, fertilizers and seeds. I also provided advice to farmers and worked on my family’s farm. Agriculture was all around me.
Seven years ago, I decided to move my family to the United States. I soon took a job in Shakopee, Minnesota to work with a well-known Canadian Ag company. This company works with farmers to help them improve production through remote sensing and satellite imagery. I traveled all over the Midwest to spread the word about the benefits of remote sensing data in agriculture and farming.
To spread the word even further, I traveled to Brazil and started working in different regions and environments. However, in critical agricultural regions, like Mato Grosso, 90% of their farming season is covered in clouds, decreasing the effectiveness of satellite imagery. This is what got me interested in drone imagery, and I began investigating the value it could provide to farmers.
How and when did you get started with senseFly?
senseFly caught my interest with its drone technology for a while before I applied. I checked the website often to see if there were opportunities available in Latin America. One day, I got tired of waiting.
I was at a hotel in Ames, Iowa for work and sent an email to senseFly’s general info email. In the message, I introduced myself and listed what I could offer to the company. I received an email back the following day and scheduled an interview for two days later. After several Skype interviews, I was hired. The only catch was that I had to move to Florida. I laughed, since that was where my wife and kids were – how perfect!
Drones are a game-changer, allowing everyone to suddenly have this ability to see things from above and understand them in a broader way.
What does your average day at work look like?
Working in Latin America is interesting. There is a cultural difference; they value in-person interaction over emails, calls or texts. I regularly get together with clients to understand why they say something and the purpose of every conversation, to show them I care about their needs and help them understand who we are as a company.
I travel often to attend shows with our dealers and partners and, also to visit customers. Our dealers are key for us in every corner of the world, so developing good relationships with them is crucial. They understand the locals and cultural differences. I receive a lot of good information and learnings from them, especially when it comes to understanding their unique needs and the needs of their customers. Whether it’s senseFly customers or dealers, I always try to focus on how I can help them in the best way possible.
What is your favorite thing about working at senseFly?
The challenges. We have great ambitions, and it takes a lot to make these things happen. The work we do is complex and changes all the time, so we all have to adapt quickly. We work in so many different fields and have to understand so many different things to help our dealers and our customers. I enjoy the permanent challenge!
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?
To use what we now call “traditional methods”, like satellite imagery and manned airplanes collecting data from the sky, was restrictive. Only certain professionals could obtain this data, whereas now, drones are something for everyone. You can now collect highly accurate, on-demand data with a birds’ eye view. Having this ability is something I find unique in human history. Drones are a game-changer, allowing everyone to suddenly have this ability to see things from above and understand them in a broader way.
Soon… we’ll ask ourselves how we were able to live and work without [drones] before.
Where do you see the drone industry heading in the next three to five years?
I see drones growing in many professions, like engineering and construction. I imagine it will be something like smartphones – how it’s something we have now, but it’s so hard to imagine what life was like without it. It’s so hard to believe 20 years ago, we didn’t have cell phones!
Soon, I think drones will be a regular part of our daily lives, and we’ll ask ourselves how we were able to live and work without them before. I see that in every vertical we work in, every construction site, every mine, every farm, everywhere.
Thank you so much for talking with us today!
You’re very welcome.