New artificial intelligence (AI) is now able to interpret drone imagery to help farmers analyse whole field crops.

The popular software Skippy Scout version 2.5, is a mobile phone app created by Drone Ag to interpret images taken by a drone. “It was always our intention to develop the software to this stage and we are thrilled to have it ready for users to take advantage of this season,” said Drone Ag founder, Jack Wrangham.

Automated analysis of drone imagery can detect the percentage of weeds compared to healthy crop, and count plants per square metre. By analysing the images, the app can also detect disease and is capable of interpreting holes in leaves to highlight insect damage.

“This is the most advanced crop scouting tool we have produced and is the culmination of years of development work,” added Mr Wrangham.

The new version of the software automatically flies a drone to scout fields five times faster than conventional methods. Using AI and satellite data it can then analyse the images to offer data and advice to the user.

Satellite data is being fed to the app up to three times a week and appears on the user’s phone as a layer of information. “Users can import their own maps too, giving each a name so that year on year data can be compiled and compared,” said Mr Wrangham.

“The AI in Skippy is able to take all of this information to offer analysis and advice based on the data collected from the drone images."

Data is presented in PDF reports that are automatically created by the app. “The reports are easy to understand and can be saved for future benchmarking and comparison," he said.

"Our aim has always been to make this technology easy to use and accessible for all. The monthly fee for Skippy is still just £30 for a single farmer and with drone prices below £400, we hope that more farmers will start to adopt this technology to save time crop scouting,” he concluded.