Iteris, Inc. recently announced the addition of growth models for sunflower and sorghum crops into ClearAg, its digital agriculture platform, allowing ClearAg APIs to be more integrated in order to inform science-based insights for optimizing productivity, resource management and plant health for 10 species of crops that represent more than two billion metric tons of global annual production.
“Our software developers, agronomists and data scientists work together to build advanced predictive models regarding the growth stages of specific crop species,” said Tom Blair, senior vice president of agriculture and weather analytics at Iteris. “We now have precise science-based data built into our sunflower and sorghum plant growth models that cover the plants’ seedling emergence, vegetative, reproductive and physiologically mature states. This capability, combined with our global land surface modeling, dynamically generated weather data, and machine learning platform for digital agriculture produces a powerful tool for our customers to establish, grow and harvest crops more efficiently.”
USDA reports that sunflower seeds are one of the five largest oilseed crops, and about 40 million metric tons are produced in the world annually. Most sunflower seeds are crushed for oil, and the need to dry the flower before thrashing presents a significant challenge at harvest. This can be done most efficiently in-field in dry, sunny weather, but cooler, wetter or cloudier climates can allow for mold to quickly set in.
ClearAg’s analytics, weather data, and plant growth models will help growers and agribusinesses to make better informed decisions about these challenges, like whether to allow sunflower plants to dry in-field or provide additional drying.
Worldwide sorghum production totaled more than 60 million metric tons last year, according to the USDA. While sorghum has historically been used primarily as animal feed, it has also been used for ethanol, as a syrupy sweetener, and has been cooked whole or ground into an ancient-grain, gluten-free flour.
It is not uncommon for additional nutrients to be necessary just prior to flowering stage, and the latest crop growth model for sorghum will allow customers to integrate ClearAg APIs to inform more data-driven decisions about when sorghum crops are likely to reach the reproductive stage so they can time nutrient application accordingly.