- Laurence Russell
Constellr acquires hyperspectral firm ScanWorld in move set to disrupt smart farming data industry
German thermal remote sensing specialist, constellr, has acquired Belgian hyperspectral firm ScanWorld, in a first for Europe’s emerging agricultural Earth Observation (EO) sector. The transaction will enable actionable monitoring across the full spectrum of water, carbon, energy and crop health and represents a pioneering step for fusing technological capabilities in the sector.
The acquisition of ScanWorld will accelerate constellr’s plans to become the European market leader in beyond-visual data services - starting with thermal - for smart farming. New use cases range from irrigation optimisation to soil organic carbon assessment and beyond. ScanWorld’s world class hyperspectral product development know-how augments constellr’s thermal infrared and data processing capabilities. These existing and future proprietary datasets will help further leverage and augment the value of public programmes such as Landsat and Copernicus.
Building on the existing partnership between constellr and ScanWorld, constellr saw the opportunity to merge the core offering of the two companies to provide an unprecedented planetary health monitoring service. The high quality and revisit of this combined data will bridge gaps in current data streams and allow for advanced data integration and fusion.
"We believe there is no current provider able to bring this joint imaging and analytics capacity to the market in the timescales that we can. This is a game-changer for the sector.”
says Max Gulde, CEO of constellr.
The potential for tapping into diverse markets and addressing new applications with this fusion of infrared and hyperspectral imaging is huge. Digital smart farming is currently highly dependent on vegetation indices that draw on visual indicators of crop health, often showing damage rather than mitigable stress symptoms. Constellr’s highly precise thermal monitoring service will provide days to weeks earlier warning of crop stress at field level, using temperature as a strong indicator of plant health. With hyperspectral, the company can go steps further in terms of measurement accuracy and quantification to map and model diverse agricultural characteristics at various scales.
This combination of technologies unlocks a range of potential use cases, such as enhancing crop yield by better understanding the varying influences of stress at different growth phases; optimizing irrigation via access to both evapotranspiration and soil moisture measurements; detecting disease through changes in leaf and cell structure and photosynthetic activity; optimizing fertilization practices through a more detailed look at the relation between growth phase, root water uptake and nitrate supply. Critically, the acquisition brings the company closer to addressing the emerging global need for soil quality monitoring, at scale, unlocking a more innovative, climate-resilient agri-food supply chain.
“Our team is delighted to take the collaboration to a new level, leveraging our highly complementary technologies to enter new markets and offer wide-ranging benefits to constellr’s customers in the agricultural space and beyond.”
enthuses Guerric de Crombrugghe, former ScanWorld General Manager, who will now lead product development at constellr, putting customer value at the heart of the company’s strategic priorities.
The transaction brings on board ScanWorld’s former shareholders, SPACEBEL S.A. (Belgium), to complement constellr’s strong set of existing investors, FTTF, OHB Venture Capital, Amathaon Capital and Next Humanity Ventures; and as well offers a new European capital as a recruitment location for constellr expanding team.
The longer term implications for remote sensing in monitoring and addressing economic and social as well as environmental and climate risks to food supply are considerable and have been emphasized by the recent conflict in Ukraine. Novel data sources along with new commercial capabilities in data fusion such as that planned by constellr and ScanWorld will help mobilize longer term thinking and planning for food security as well as accelerate the development and take-up of data from future public remote sensing missions.