Flight Scheduling During the Season

Flight Scheduling During the 2022 Season

IFS - Intelligent Flight Scheduler 2.0

Overview

One of the most important elements of a successful Taranis service is the timing of our flights. If flights are taking place too early, the imagery outputs will not provide the required data and will limit the ability to deliver meaningful insights. If flights are taking place too late, the ability to act upon the delivered information and insights will be time-limited. 

Taranis developed a comprehensive technology, named Intelligent Flight Scheduler 2.0 (or IFS 2.0),  geared to improve our serviceability by arriving at the field at the right time from an agronomic perspective. The IFS 2.0 implementation considers many factors and use cases, and provides a unified model which reliably schedules Taranis flights.

The technology is providing accurate flight scheduling for several crop types, including Soybean, Corn and Cotton, as well as many other crops that are being serviced.

To perform the most accurate scheduling decisions, IFS 2.0 is utilizing a proven stage growth model, provided by ClearAG by DTN: https://www.dtn.com/agriculture/agribusiness/clearag/

Utilizing the stage growth model, the Taranis team, including Customer Success, Product Management and Agronomy staff, defined the best timing for each flight, and according to this logic flights are scheduled.


Rules and Guidelines 

The following rules and guidelines were implemented as part of the IFS 2.0 development. 


No scheduling of new flights while a previous flight is incomplete

If the field already has an active flight, IFS 2.0 will wait at least until images are taken at the field prior to generating the next flight mission. The goal is to avoid scenarios in which we have two flight missions very close to each other, as the second flight will not provide meaningful and additional useful information.


During our scheduling logic, IFS 20 retrieves all fields associated with active plans. During this retrieval, fields with active flights are filter out, ensuring these fields are not even considered by our scheduling algorithm. 

Minimal time between flights

IFS 2.0 will not allow for late passes flights to be performed less than 5 days apart, even if possible by the crop stages forecast. It will also help prevent redundant information. 

Crop information requirement

IFS 2.0 will not schedule flights for fields which do not have information about the crop in the field. The goal is to avoid flying unseeded fields. 

Planting date information requirement

In most cases, the planting date information is crucial for calculating and creating the flights. This is currently the case for all Corn, Soybean and Cotton fields that are part of our full-service plans. Without the planting date, IFS 2.0 cannot accurately predict the best time to fly those fields, and will wait with any flight scheduling until the information is provided.

Minimal flight window

IFS 2.0 provides at least 3 days of flight window for late passes flights to allow our pilots to perform the flight missions. IFS 2.0 aims to provide flight windows as large as possible and up to 21 days, to allow for flexibility and enhance our operations performance.

Skipping flights

In the rare cases where there isn’t sufficient time to satisfy all the requirements above, IFS 2.0 will not schedule a specific flight mission, and will wait for the scheduler to schedule the next one.

Future forecast limitations

As with all stage growth models, the ability to predict and forecast future conditions is limited. For example, the model could have predicted that the Corn at a specific field would arrive at V1 at the beginning of May, however a cold wave hit the area and it was delayed by a week. Similarly and on the opposite scale, the model could have predicted V3 will be by the end of May, however the weather was warmer than expected and by the scheduled flight time the crop is already in the late stages of V4.


To try to mitigate the risks of unpredictable weather, IFS 2.0 has a set rule to not schedule the beginning of a flight window more than 10 days into the future. IFS 2.0 will use more than 10 days to understand when the flight window should end, but no less for the beginning. 


The mitigation can create cases where there will be no active flight mission for some fields. For example, if the 3rd flight for a Soybean field should be performed only between V9 and R1, and currently the forecast is predicting the field will arrive at V9 in 13 days, IFS 2.0 will not schedule the flight yet. The scheduling of the flight will be delayed for 3 more days, until the start of V9 is only 10 days in the future, and only then create the flight mission.


Implementation

Below you can find a detailed description of the rules for each type of crop and operation mode. 

Relative Matury / Hybrid / Variety 

We are using relative maturity of Corn, Soybean and Cotton to make the IFS 2.0 model more accurate in relation to the timing of the flights throughout the season. 


The model will get the maturity for the crop, set up by the user through crop variety for the field cycle.

In case this wasn't set, we use a default maturity according to the field location and the state default maturity:
Cust SuccessCornSoybean
AlabamaHannah1164
ArkansasAustin1164
ConnecticutKatie1123
ColoradoAmanda1103
DelawareKatie1123
IllinoisNicole1103
IndianaKatie1103
IowaNicole1103
KansasAmanda1103
KentuckyHannah1124
LouisianaHannah1164
MichiganKatie1002.5
MinnesotaAmanda1052
MississippiHannah1164
MissouriHannah1143.8
MontanaAmanda1102.5
NebraskaAmanda1103
North DakotaAmanda1052
OhioKatie1103
OklahomaHannah1143.8
PennsylvaniaKatie1103
South DakotaAmanda1052
TennesseeHannah1124
TexasHannah1153.8
WisconsinNicole1052
WyomingAmanda1103

In any other use case, we use the default maturity set by DTN, which can be found here:

https://docs.clearag.com/documentation/Crop_Growth_and_Health/Crop_Growth/latest#_predictive_growth_models


What is a logical pass number?

 

Taranis will complete flights based on the subscribed plan. There are specific scenarios where a smaller number of flights will be performed, for example:

  • The required information for flights has not been provided in time

  • Weather conditions or other unforeseen circumstances have not enabled safe flying


In these unusual cases, IFS 2.0 will create an alternative scheduling strategy, separating the actual pass number (flight number) from the logical pass number:

  • Pass number: the actual flights performed in the field, starting from 1 and increasing by 1 with every flight

  • Logical pass number: the number representing the rules behind the scheduling of the flight. 


Let's look at details of flights for specific crops and their stages. 

Corn


Logical flight number

Earliest

Latest

1 (stand count)

Crop stage V1

Crop stage V3

2

Crop stage V3

Crop stage V5

3

Crop stage V7

Crop stage V10

4

Crop stage V12

Crop stage R1

5

Crop stage R3

Crop stage R4

6+

2 weeks from previous flight

4 weeks from previous flight


Soybean


Logical flight number

Earliest

Latest

1 (stand count)

Crop stage VC

Crop stage V1

2

Crop stage V3

Crop stage V5

3

Crop stage V9

Crop stage R1

4

Crop stage R3

Crop stage R4

5

Crop stage R5

Crop stage R5

6+

2 weeks from previous flight

4 weeks from previous flight


Cotton


Logical flight number

Earliest

Latest

1 (stand count)

Crop stage V1

10 days after start of stage

2

Crop stage V2

14 days after start of stage

3

Crop stage V3

14 days after start of stage

4

Crop stage V4

14 days after start of stage

5

Crop stage V5

14 days after start of stage

6+

2 weeks from previous flight

4 weeks from previous flight


Sugar Cane


Logical flight number

Earliest

Latest

All flights

1 days from previous flight

7 days from previous flight


Other crops


Logical flight number

Earliest

Latest

1 (stand count)

2 weeks from planting date

4 weeks from planting date

2+

2 weeks from previous flight

4 weeks from previous flight


Q&A 

  • Q: Why is there no flight scheduled for my field?

A: No flights scheduled could occur due to several reasons and please review the rules section to see if one of them applies to your situation. In summary, reasons include:

  • The previous flight for the field in question is still in progress

  • Crop type was not provided

  • Planting date was not provided, but is required for that specific crop

  • It is still too early to schedule your next flight

  • The field has reached the max amount of flights included in its plan. Contact your  customer success or sales representative to upgrade your plan


  • Q: I see that the first (or other) flight for Corn/Soybean/Cotton should be from stage X to Y, but when you arrived at the field my crop was already past those stages. Why did this happen?

A: There are two main reasons responsible for the above scenario:

  • Weather conditions or other unexpected circumstances prevented our pilots from arriving at the desired flight window

  • To schedule our flights at the correct time, IFS 2.0 uses a future forecast of the field’s crop stages. It may be that the weather was different than expected (hotter or colder), which resulted in the crop maturing faster than the forecast predicted. We try our best to prevent this from happening by limiting our forecast

 

  • Q: What is a logical pass number?


A: see the details here.





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