Drone Ag Wins UK Grant Skippy Scout

Skippy Scout, drone ag, precision agriculture, agriculture droneDrone Ag is the developer of Skippy, a mobile app delivering precision ag data on a smartphone.  Using inexpensive, commercial off the shelf (COTS) DJI drones, Skippy could be a game changer for farmers, researchers and commercial producers of agricultural products.  Skippy Scout delivers crop views, reporting, and more; automatically.

Skippy doesn’t require great piloting skills, automating the flight and flying the COTS drone to selected points in a field to send you high resolution, leaf level images. “Then Skippy analyses the captured images and sends you a field report, with % healthy crop, unhealthy crop, weeds and insect damage,” says Drone Ag.  “The whole process takes minutes, not hours.”

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Drone Ag Wins UK Grant to Develop Skippy Scout: Automated Crop Scouting with COTS Drones

by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M. Crosby

Drone Ag has announced the start of a new two-year project funded by Innovate UK with a grant of £610,000, which was conditional on raising at least an equal amount from private investors. “I am delighted that our grant funding has helped to derisk Drone Ag’s ambitious technology plans sufficiently to encourage further private investment,” said Innovate UK Program Manager Bruce Colley.

The funding will allow for the development of Drone Ag’s new automated aerial drone-based system, which is designed to test and validate new agricultural products and will have applications in the methodologies of both research and commercial trials. The investment was led by a consortium of partners which includes the Business Innovation Centre (BIC) alongside Innovation SuperNetwork (Newcastle Angel Hub), NorthInvest, Fund Her North and the UKBAA.

“We’ve supported Drone Ag from the start of their journey and are thrilled to help them receive this grant from Innovate UK,” said Jordan Dargue, Head of Access to Finance at Innovation SuperNetwork. “The technology that Drone Ag are developing is ground-breaking and the funding is going to help them achieve their goals of a faster more efficient plot analysis automation. I’m looking forward to watching how this project unfolds over the next two years.”

“Trials programmes are in desperate need of innovation, as most monitoring is still done visually, manually, and in person,” said Ruth Mann, Head of Integrated Crop Technologies at Agrii.

With the support of industry leaders like Agrii, Eurofins Agroscience Services, and UPL, Drone Ag seeks to offer fully automated drone flights from on-site base stations. Its AI-powered analysis and integration grant companies the ability to monitor, assess and interrogate their trials with increased speed and accuracy.

“UPL are excited to see DroneAg’s solutions being applied to Research & Development trials,” said Graham Poulton, Global Head of Agronomic Digital Innovation Team at UPL. “We are very supportive as we see many benefits to our own operations, including staff well-being. We hope in supporting this, others will also come to benefit, which is aligned to UPLs OpenAg mission”.

“Crop research and development is an extremely important factor in moving agriculture toward infinite sustainability,” added Drone Ag founder Jack Wrangham. “We are very excited to receive Innovate UKs backing, and support from Agrii, UPL and Eurofins to help develop a version of the Skippy Scout platform that will revolutionise crop trials monitoring and analysis.”

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Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer.