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New drone technology could identify crop diseases

A new mobile phone app has been developed that will allow farmers to spot diseases in their crops more effectively this spring using drone technology and high-resolution images.

The app, ‘Skippy Scout’, has been developed by technology pioneer Drone Ag to pinpoint diseases such as yellow rust and Septoria tritici earlier using drone imagery.

Skippy Scout

On the new app, Drone Ag founder, Jack Wrangham, said: “Spotting the signs of common diseases as early as possible has become increasingly important to controlling them promptly. A drone can scout a field and send images to a farmer’s mobile phone five times faster than conventional crop walking.”

The function of the app is based on a drone flying close to the crop and taking high-resolution images that are broadcast to the user’s phone in real-time.

These images can then be used to assess the health status of the crop and identify foliar diseases.

The app can be used with most makes and models of drone and can be downloaded at a cost of £30/month.

“In minutes, a drone can take images of multiple points in a field. The images are detailed enough to identify early signs of many common crop diseases. Skippy Scout offers farmers and agronomists an opportunity to spot diseases faster and reduce the risk of irreparable damage to yield. Preventing yield loss will ultimately help farmers improve crop margins.”

Agronomy

Using drones also enables farmers to share images of crops with agronomists between visits. Robert Ord, agronomist for MSP Agriculture confirms: “This technology gives me an accurate image of how crops are developing at this time of year.”

“Using Skippy Scout, or looking at images sent to me, I can identify the disease before it becomes too established and protect crops earlier.”

AI technology

In addition to this, Drone Ag is currently working on the development of artificial intelligence (AI) that will interpret drone images, identify diseases and inform users of the disease.

“This technology can revolutionise how farmers identify disease and has the potential to save acres of crops worldwide,” concludes Mr Wrangham.

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