Skymatics Puts Computer Vision to Work, Providing Insights into the Causes of Crop Damage

DroneDeploy talks to Skymatics about crop damage analysis, and how Live Map transforms agriculture workflows

Extreme weather caused more than $1.9 billion in damage to US crops last year according to recent data from the National Weather Service. As the agriculture industry braces itself for another season of severe weather events, solutions to help diagnose and understand crop damage have never been more needed. So how can the latest drone technology help?

With an accurate picture of the causes and extent of damage, you can better plan for the future, while insurance companies are able to help recoup losses faster and get you back on your feet.

Enter Skymatics. It uses the latest advances in computer vision to analyze drone data and give industries like agriculture, construction, and engineering the insights they need to act quickly. Its Crop Damage Analysis app, available on the DroneDeploy App Market, has become a trusted tool for growers and crop adjusters as they deal with increasingly frequent incidents of crop damage.

Skymatics App Takes a Deep Dive Into the Data of Damaged Crops

We recently spoke to Dr. Cassidy Rankine, Skymatics CTO and remote sensing expert about their solution.

The Skyclaim Crop Damage Analysis report takes all of the data available from your drone imagery and aggregates it into a digestible report. With this report in hand, you can work with your insurance company to fast track a crop damage claim. The damage map points the adjuster right to the most damaged areas, while the damage classification section helps him extrapolate the loss across the whole field.

A sample crop damage report from the SkyClaim App

It’s a simple but highly effective report. This simplicity is intentional. “We’re taking a highly complicated process and summarizing it,” Cassidy says. “We want that simplified information for people to be able to utilize the report right away.”

But how does Skymatics arrive at this simplified report? Here’s where we can all geek out about computer vision.

Example images from a wheat plot hail study where we predicted hail damage severity and timing with 89% percent accuracy using RGB and DSM data layers

Nearly Fifty Data Layers from a Single Drone Map

From a single drone map, Skymatics derives nearly fifty layers of data — everything from elevation and surface roughness, to shadow frequency, image texture, and a dozen different vegetation indices. Using hyperspatial data analysis, it then aggregates all of the information from a region of pixels and matches it up with what’s happening in the real world. The result, as Cassidy says, gets at the “why” behind crop damage, not just the “what.”

“We’re not just telling you, ‘this is damage.’ We’re getting closer to what that damage is. This field has cow damage from trampling, this part lost vegetation due to drought, this part due to a disease. That’s what we’re working towards — the causality of crop loss.” — Cassidy Rankine

Latest Version of Skymatics Lets Users Access the Information Behind Their Damage Reports

For many growers and insurance adjusters, the SkyClaim Crop Damage report is all the information they need need to take quick, decisive action. But for those who want to dig deeper, the latest version of the app lets users access the data layers behind the report.

Although some growers may find this information useful on a practical level, for Skymatics, the move is more about providing a greater level of transparency.

“There are wide-reaching implications for the information in the report,” says Cassidy. “We wanted to give more information to the user about how we are getting those numbers.”

Testing the Accuracy of Live Map: Transforming the Crop Insurance Workflow

Even though DroneDeploy customers can now get same day data insights with traditional cloud-processed maps, when you are talking about thousands of dollars in lost crop revenue, time is of the essence on your farm.

DroneDeploy’s Live Map tool maps fields in real time, so users get instant field insights.

This is why Cassidy, along with so many in the ag industry, is excited about the release of Live Map. But he wanted to know how the accuracy of Live Map holds up compared to a full orthomosaic, so he put it to the test.

The results of Skymatic’s test of Live Map compares the accuracy of real-time data to a traditional cloud-processed orthomosaic map

The results of the accuracy test:

For Crop Damage

Cassidy’s test found Live Map to be accurate within 10% compared to a full orthomosaic.

For Land with Large Patches of Distinct Features

The accuracy is closer to 2–3% compared to a full orthomosaic.

It’s important to point out that these results are preliminary, and by no means a comprehensive accuracy study. Cassidy looked at a small sample, and his results describe the accuracy in feature space area, but not the accuracy of feature location. But he hopes this can be a good start to the conversation. He wants users to understand when Live Map is the right choice and when it’s best to wait for a full orthomosaic.

“If you want to get down to the severity of crop damage, or anything that needs fine spatial resolution, like plant count or wildlife tracks, you’ll want to wait,” Cassidy recommends.

But the immediacy of Live Map is very helpful for directing crop adjusters during an inspection of a damaged field. “It’s a great tool to increase their productivity onsite if they want a good idea of where to go and what to target,” he says.

And, with future advances in accuracy, as well as greater integration between Live Map and Skymatics, Cassidy foresees the entire crop insurance workflow transforming.

“In the future, with Live Map the insurance adjuster could fly the field while he’s out inspecting. By the time the drone lands, he can start to target his assessment and maybe even assign the values for losses. Live Map is a game changer just for what it can do currently, and it’s only going to get better.” — Cassidy Rankine, CTO of Skymatics

Where to Learn More

Get Your First SkyClaim Report for Free

New Skymatics users get their first report free. Install the app to get started.

A Skymatics Case Study

Learn how DroneDeploy and Skymatics helped a grower and a seed rep assess damage to a cornfield. Read the case study.

Get Started with DroneDeploy

Want to learn how DroneDeploy can help your business? Visit to start your free trial or request a consultation with one of our team members. The DroneDeploy mobile application is available for free download for both iOS and Android devices.

DroneDeploy's Blog

DroneDeploy is the leading cloud software platform for commercial drones. Learn more at


Written by

DroneDeploy is the leading cloud software platform for commercial drones.

DroneDeploy's Blog

DroneDeploy is the leading cloud software platform for commercial drones. Learn more at

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