JACK AND Hugh Wrangham of Drone Ag have launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £250,000 to fund further development of their new Skippy Scout software; a smartphone application that automates crop scouting using drones.

The brothers developed the app to autonomously fly a drone around a field, collecting very high resolution photos at various points, a job that a drone can do up to ten times faster than someone on foot, covering up to two hectares per minute of flight. The leaf-level imagery is then beamed straight back to the user's phone, where it can be analysed.

Hugh, who helps to run the family farm, said: "Having this information straight away means I can confidently assess pest, weed and disease levels in the field and I can make informed decisions to deal with them quickly and accurately, which will help to crop damage and increase yields."

Over 100 people have signed up to test the app in its early testing phase, and the company is now planning the next stages of development, with the aim to fully integrate their AI to detect green area index, weeds, disease and growth stage automatically, as well as adding variable-rate mapping capabilities. The aim is to take the platform to market over the next 18 months.

Jack added:​ "We truly believe that Skippy Scout can bring huge improvements to efficiency in agriculture. Crowdfunding allows anyone to invest and to share in our success. This new venture into software was born out of the experience and insight we’ve gained over the last three years, both on the farm, and by training other farmers to use drones. For me, continuing to involve the agricultural community as we move forward is key both from an investment and feedback point of view, crowdfunding is a great way to do that."