Skippy Scout, a crop scouting mobile phone application, developed by farming brothers Jack and Hugh Wrangham of Drone Ag has entered its second phase of crowdfunding, after raising nearly 30% of its target £250,000 funds through an initial private investment phase.
Drone Ag’s Crowdcube funding page (www.crowdcube.com/droneag/) is now open to everyone who wishes to invest in this technology. The funds raised will help the business develop new features, increase the company’s staffing, and take the product to market over the next 18 months.
The autonomous crop scouting app is designed to help farmers save time and costs, increase yields and efficiency on farm, and use less chemicals. Skippy Scout will autonomously fly a drone around a given field and collect very high resolution crop-level photos at pre-determined points. The drones can cover up to two hectares per minute of flight, making the crop scouting exercise up to 10 times faster than a person on foot. Leaf-level imagery collected by the camera is sent directly to the user’s smartphone, where it can be analysed and immediately provide crop information to assist in decision making.
Jack Wrangham, Drone Ag co-founder and director, says: “Our ambition is to bring easy to use, economical technology to farmers, to help them make better decisions, increase yield and profitability, while reducing inputs and costs. We’re excited about bringing Skippy Scout to market and demonstrating the benefits of improved efficiency in agriculture.
“We have been delighted by the response to our crowdfunding campaign so far, which allows everyone to invest and share in our success. It’s important to us that we encourage investment from the very communities that will benefit the most from Skippy Scout, as well as reach all those interested in improving global agriculture and food production, through technology.”
The app is currently being trialed with over 200 users signed up to test it, including individual farmers, agronomists, and large agronomy businesses. The commercial version, once launched, will run as SaaS (Subscription as a Service) with two subscription tiers for farmers and consultants. Future development is aimed at integrating AI in development to automatically detect green area index, weeds, disease and growth stage, and add variable-rate mapping that will export to farm machinery and allow targeted applications.
Lewis McKerrow, Digital Farming Manager at Hutchinson’s, who is testing the Skippy Scout app, says: “Targeted agronomy is fast becoming a reality and Skippy Scout has the potential to compliment this by helping our agronomists to capture images from particular points of interest in the field. Agronomy decisions will undoubtedly become more data driven and Skippy Scout offers a unique approach to drone use in agriculture to enhance decision making. What really excites me though, is the potential as Skippy develops to send the drone to specific areas identified by other datasets such as satellite imagery, or soil type variations.”
Drone Ag founders Jack and Hugh are offering investors a stake in their entire company, not just the Skippy Scout app. The team also have significant expertise and IP in drone-based spraying technology, which will play an important role in the future of the agricultural crop protection. Shareholders will also benefit from revenues generated by the sale of sensors to R&D clients and the company’s training courses for drone users.
Graham Potter, Farmers Weekly arable farmer of the year finalist 2015, who has invested in Drone Ag, says: “If I want to prove that the weeds are there, I can go into Skippy Scout and go and check those areas. It saves me walking across a big field, it is literally five minutes, job done.”
Andy Hindhaugh, Commercial Director for McCreath Simpson and Prentice, an investor and distributor for Drone Ag says: “We see great potential in Skippy Scout. Our agronomists have been involved in the trials from the start and have seen increased productivity from using the solution, and have been able to more accurately target where any agrochemical intervention is needed on a field. It is the first solution we have come across which is simple to use and delivers real benefits for farmers, agronomists and potentially the whole supply chain.”
Investment opportunities include voting and non-voting shares, depending on the amount invested, starting from £10.00. The largest single investment received to date is £30,000. Rewards are offered according to level of investment and include Skippy Scout user licenses, the invitation to fly a drone with the founders, a two-day training course on ‘Using your farm drone’ or a drone experience day, and private drone flying lessons and experience days from Jack Wrangham for the largest investors.
The public phase of Drone Ag’s crowdfunding campaign runs for 30 days from Friday 26 April, closing on 25 May 2019. More information can be found via www.droneag.farm/invest.
Image shows found Jack Wrangham