Planet says they are collecting 7 TB of data per day in 2018, worldwide. This is an impressive number, however, because TerrAvion actually lands after collection of imagery and uses fiber internet collection points to transfer data, TerrAvion is collecting and uploading approximately 11TB per day in the US corn belt alone, and roughly 15 TB per day on all US agriculture. Planet’s business model is one that is intended to collect imagery on the whole world every day, but less than 2% of that imagery constitutes any kind of US agriculture (or rangeland, for that matter), about 140 GB per day. That’s less than the amount of data that TerrAvion delivers to growers in some counties.
Because of the vast differences in resolution ( TerrAvion has at least 4x more resolution, per pixel), TerrAvion’s data inherently contains more value. This level of detail can be utilized to find pests early, understand causes before you get to the field, differentiate soil issues from equipment issues, understand irrigation variability, and create a better variable rate map.
Plus, TerrAvion offers something that Planet does not, a thermal image. Popular opinion points to thermal imagery as the most valuable layer and often the layer that shows the earliest warning sign that the field has an issue. Lastly, with TerrAvion, you’ll rarely face a cloudy image - something Planet cannot say.
The future probably isn’t space-borne in agriculture. TerrAvion is at the beginning of its cost scaling curve, on a fraction of the budget of a huge, well-funded government contractor like Planet. The agriculture market is beginning to realize that pixels matter, and TerrAvion is well-positioned to beat every other company on a cost-per-pixel basis.
In a future post we’ll look at how TerrAvion is cheaper at the wholesale level for service better in every dimension.