AgEagle is Helping to Make That a Near-Term Reality for States Nationwide
By Barrett Moody, PhD | Chief Executive Officer, AgEagle Aerial Systems Inc.
Based on a new report just released by research firm New Frontier Data in collaboration with Vote Hemp, 34 U.S. states have reported licensed hemp cultivation acreage totaled 511,422 in combined cultivation land area in the first half of 2019, which is a 5X increase over total land area of barely over 100,000 acres reported for all of 2018.
Key findings of the report highlighted include:
At least 70% of the 2019 U.S. hemp harvest is intended for CBD extraction purposes;
Colorado leads the nation in hemp cultivation and processing land area with over 80,000 acres reported;
Oregon, Kentucky, Tennessee and Montana lead in hemp program expansion initiatives;
Tennessee leads in total hemp licenses issued in 2019; and
California is expected to be the top-producing hemp state for both conventional and organic production as thousands of acres have already been planted this year.
Of the 500,000+ acres licensed for hemp cultivation across the country, it is expected that an estimated 115,000–138,000 acres of hemp will be harvested.
What’s driving the growth?
In a story recently published in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Ian Laird, chief financial officer and general counsel of Hemp Benchmarks, a Stamford, Connecticut-based financial business and industry data provider, stated, “Right now, farmers are making multiples of the profit they would make in corn or anything else.” This opportunity to materially improve the return on acres planted with hemp is serving to significantly drive interest from growers across the country – growers which range from highly sophisticated farming operations to young upstarts who want to cash in on the escalating hemp boom.
The total number of states with hemp programs now stands at 46, as only Idaho, Mississippi, New Hampshire and South Dakota have yet to establish legal frameworks to support hemp industry value chains. However, managing the registration, oversight and compliance of hemp cultivation is quickly proving to be problematic for many state departments of agriculture as they scramble to prep for what many believe will be an onslaught of growers seeking licenses to grow hemp.
Florida State Director of Cannabis Holly Bell just informed the Senate Agriculture Committee earlier this month that the State is on track to begin issuing permits to grower just after the first of the year, noting that 8,000 applicants are expected, with roughly 3,000 farm operations qualifying. Soon enough, homegrown hemp will be in the Sunshine State’s soil and Bell predicts a “several million dollar industry that will become hundreds of millions in the next two years.”
Florida is not alone in its bullish outlook.
For instance, Agricultural Commissioner Edmund Williams in Ventura County, California projects that if no one loses a crop in the 4,100 registered acres in his county, the gross estimated value would reach at least $100 million this year and likely much more than that.
HempOverview – the Gold Standard for Hemp Cultivation Regulatory Oversight and Best Management Practices
Most state agriculture officials recognize that there remain numerous challenges to efficiently manage registration/permitting, oversight and compliance of this burgeoning new market; and AgEagle has been working diligently to provide the simplest, technology-based solutions to readily overcome those challenges.
Through our development of HempOverview, state administrators and growers can now connect, share, maintain proactive communications and collaborate on developing best management practices for hemp cultivation, registration, compliance and enforcement.
Just speaking to the development of Best Management Practices, we believe that any software designed to collect, analyze and deliver accurate and relevant information to farmers must come from a solutions provider with significant experience in the agricultural commodity analysis field. The solution must help farmers – especially smaller farmers with less resources and greater risks – adapt quickly, avoid costly mistakes, increase yield and maximize profitability. Data collected and scrubbed for sensitive personal information must be able to be shared with in-state research institutions that are developing seed variants, farming practices, and other technologies that can help in-state farmers and be exported worldwide.
Our HempOverview software utilizes a flexible, user friendly map-based interface to visualize field boundaries, satellite imagery, and weather data for a farmed location. Interface design makes information very accessible to users. Growers can maintain and view data about their farm to make more informed decisions and track how the field responds to various practices. The web portal and mobile app allow users to provide field scouting details and to seamlessly share that information with their respective supply chains. These georeferenced points can be utilized and tagged for CBD/THC testing, pest scouting, and soil sampling, among other key metrics and analytical capabilities. A grower can also track information related to their irrigation, pest and weed control methods, and fertilization. This can be useful when analyzing data on productivity, profitability, and establishing best management practices on a field by field basis.
The referenced data points collected in HempOverview are searchable and will be available to the user in the application year over year. This type of detail and location information helps build a robust database for the real-time creation of BMPs. Growers and researchers can collaborate on this data collection during the year to expose early warning signs of broader crop problems. The ability to layer in the known status of the crop with satellite imagery illustrates where, when, and to what extent productivity or damage is occurring. This becomes a key driver to the success of a particular seed variety and the overall hemp operation in the state.
AgEagle knows of no other SaaS solution on the market that provides the multi-faceted level of support and services that HempOverview offers to all stakeholders in the hemp industry, matched by the level of experience and expertise of a specialized technology company that has been serving the global agricultural industry for nearly a decade.