New drone software scouts crops 20 times faster

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  • Drone Ag has developed new functionality for its mobile app Skippy Scout including 360-degree field imaging, plant counting, and base station technology

The new software will enable users of Skippy Version 2.6 to see a whole field with a bird’s eye view. Rather than only viewing individual scouting points, the new interface, “Scout Spheres”, offers high resolution overviews of entire fields combined with the ability to inspect leaf-level scout point data. “We are the only provider to offer users a drone-enabled, full field overview that includes the ability to focus on any area of the field and choose where to inspect at leaf-level,” says Drone Ag founder Jack Wrangham.

Skippy Scout is capable of counting emerging plants 20 times faster than walking the crop. It can count cereals, OSR, soybeans, beans, peas, and potatoes, offering an accurate total of plants in an image, as well as the number of plants per square metre. “This development will enable existing and new users of Skippy to count emerging plants and then monitor the same fields to establish an accurate green area index (GAI) as the crop develops,” he says.

A new base station, named “Skippy Nest”, is one of the first in the world to offer autonomous drone flight by a user in any location. This will enable a member of the Drone Ag team to fly a user’s drone remotely. The farm can be located anywhere in the world and, using the base station, Drone Ag will be able to connect with it to offer a field scouting service. “We are starting commercial trials next year in the hope that we can launch the base stations shortly after.”

The solar powered base station protects and charges the drone and can be remotely connected to by one of Drone Ag’s pilots. “By operating in this way, we can offer farmers and agronomists a service that will scout fields up to 20 times faster than on foot and email them PDF reports of GAI, weed and pest data in real time.”

Drone Ag has sought crowd funding to develop Skippy Scout and is now entering a third phase to help fund the new base station technology. “We are farmers and we wanted other farmers to share in the development of our technology. Crowd funding is crucial to our product development, and we are looking to raise a further £1.45 million in this third phase which will open in October. Those interested can register their interest now at www.skippy.farm/invest.”

The new 2.6 version of Skippy (2.6) also features terrain aware route planning which halves flight times to maximise battery life and offer users the fastest scouting technology. “The amount of time being saved will enable farmers to concentrate on the problem rather than spend all their time finding it, only to find they are too late to make a difference,” he concludes. 

Caption: Drone Ag founder Jack Wrangham has crowd funded £600,000 since 2019 and the company’s Skippy Scout software has attracted over 800

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