Sunday, May 26, 2013
Opportunities at the Intersections: Aviation and Agriculture
There are several alternate perspectives which one could leverage to seek out new business opportunities in an industry. One such alternative perspective that was experimented with was to explore the intersections between the focus industry and a distinctly different industry. The focus industry was aviation and the distinct industry was agriculture. While exploring the intersections between the two industries, several opportunity areas worth exploring became apparent. I would discuss some of the briefly:
Weather is as important to agriculture as it is to aviation. Both industries require improved weather predictions. Data and numerical weather modelling drives the weather predictions today. Satellite data has some limitations. For instance, they cannot provide for upper air data and more localized data. The weather data collected on-board the aircraft is now being leveraged to provide the upper air data to Meteorological agencies (Refer AMDAR program, http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/www/GOS/ABO/AMDAR/ ) . This improves weather modelling which helps agriculture as well.
Also, the sensors on passing aircrafts can provide localised weather data on the regions below which can improve weather advisories for agriculture.
Its the latest agricultural method to maximize crop yield. The method relies on remote sensing data to monitor crops conditions. Unmanned aircrafts are being deployed in some regions for the purpose and the crop imagery is being used to determine conditions like crop-stress, ready for harvesting, water scarcity etc. (Eg: http://www.cropcam.com/ ) . Further opportunities may lie in using imagery from commercial flying aircrafts on a large scale.
High value produce
To improve the income and livelihood for farmers, they are encouraged to grow high value crops. One of the such crops are bio-fuel cultivars from which bio-jet fuel can be derived. We consider only sustainable bio-fuel crops which can grow in dry and waste land and hence do not compete with food crops. Eg: Jatropha, Castor, Eucalyptus. As per IATA, aviation bio-fuel is a US$100bil plus business opportunity.
The emphasis in this blog post is not on the above three areas as such but on the perspective to explore linkages between industries to identify opportunity areas.