As temperatures rise and fields start growing crop walking season is upon us all. One solution to trudging through miles and miles for cereals is to send up a drone to do the work for you.

One company has devised a drone called ‘Skippy Scout’ which they claim provides fast, accurate Gross Internal Area (GAI) measurements on OSR and cereals. These GAI measurements can be captured quickly and automatically, regardless of cloud cover, and delivered within minutes; allowing applications to be carried out immediately.

Last year agronomist, Andrew Lowe said he saved a client £60/ha on N costs using Skippy Scout. Meanwhile farmer Will Green, a client of Agrii Agronomist, Andrew Lowe, grew a winter wheat variety called Costello after a crop of oats for the harvest of 2022.

The average yield for this on the farm is usually in the region of 8-8.5 t/ha. After using Skippy Scouts GAI values Andrew’s soil mineral and nitrogen tests showed that the crop only needed 151 kg/ha compared with RB209 recommendations which showed he would need to apply 220 kg/ha of nitrogen to achieve their target yield.

This was then applied in three splits throughout March, April and May 2022. Two other fields produced similarly low recommendations of 152 kg/ha and 162 kg/ha of Nitrogen.

The sizeable savings across the four fields in today’s market are a good enough outcome, moreover when it came to harvesting those three fields, Will said: “The highest yield came in at 9.4t/ha, pretty much the best we ever get here, with an average of 8.25t/ha, which, considering the massive savings we saw in fertiliser costs, was a great result.”

There are also claims that using drone measurements can save on herbicide costs through better targetting chemicals.