Drones speed up crop walking

Skippy Scout is a crop monitoring application that uses drones to automatically capture images to offer arable farmers vital broad acre crop insight. 

Skippy Scout uses high resolution images taken using a drone to analyse crops and show evidence of weeds or pests.

Skippy Scout is a crop monitoring application that uses drones to automatically capture images to offer arable farmers vital broad acre crop insight.

The phone-based app uses GPS and mapping software to fly a drone to points in a field selected by the farmer. The images taken by the drone are interpreted by the app to provide an accurate green area index (GAI) and count emerging plants. The quality of image collected can also identify weeds and is accurate enough to capture insect damage on a single leaf.

Jack Wrangham, founder of Drone Ag, and his team worked with 200 triallists including farmers and agronomists and launched Skippy in March 2020. There are now nearly 100 users with more adopting the technology every month.  Jack sees drones as an essential tool for farmers today and also believes that in the next five years drones will help provide much of the information needed to aid precision farming decisions. He explains:

“Farmers have always walked their crops. However, the time available to do this in the traditional way is diminishing. As farm sizes increase and labour units per hectare decline, the risk of losing crops because a problem has not been identified quickly enough will increase. Skippy Scout offers every farmer the chance to see and evaluate crops easily and efficiently using just a phone and a drone.”

Skippy Scout is a phone-based application that connects to a drone. The farmer chooses points using maps of their farm that are stored in the phone app. The drone then flies to the selection taking images at each point. The images are fed back to the phone for analysis and each set of results is recorded to allow for future comparisons to be made year on year. “There is no need to be knowledgeable or proficient at flying a drone, Skippy does it for you. The Mavic Mini is less than £400, farmers need no licence to use one making it an ideal way to start using with Skippy.

Jack further explains that drones and technology are not future fantasy, but vital tools that are being used by farmers today. “Technology is not a threat to farming, it is an aid that can save time and money. Adapting farming methods to make use of technology like Skippy is crucial if agriculture is going to provide for the world’s ever-growing population,” he says.

A farmer himself, Jack understands the pressure of trying to walk a crop thoroughly and keep up with other daily farm work. “We are arable farmers and we have developed Skippy at our own farm in Northumberland. This software is genuinely easy to use and is priced to be affordable to every arable farmer. We believe drones can help and we have developed this software to be accessible to everyone who wants to embrace change and adopt new farming practices,” concludes Jack.


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