Drone Ag announces grant funding for Trial Plot Automation

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Drone Ag has announced the start of a new, two-year, Innovate UK grant-funded project having successfully bid for a grant of £610,000, which was conditional on raising at least that amount from private investors.

Bruce Colley, Program Manager from Innovate UK said: “I am delighted that our grant funding has helped to de-risk Drone Ag’s ambitious technology plans sufficiently to encourage further private investment.”

Funding from Innovate UK will enable Drone Ag to develop an innovative and automated aerial drone-based system for the testing and validation of new agricultural products. This platform will be useful in the methodologies of both research and commercial trials.

The investment is led by a consortia of partners including the Business Innovation Centre (BIC) together with Innovation SuperNetwork (Newcastle Angel Hub), NorthInvest, Fund Her North and the UKBAA.

Jordan Dargue, head of access to finance at Innovation SuperNetwork said: “We’ve supported Drone Ag from the start of their journey and are thrilled to help them receive this grant from Innovate UK. The technology that Drone Ag are developing is ground-breaking and the funding is going to help them achieve their goals of a faster more efficient plot analysis automation. I’m looking forward to watching how this project unfolds over the next two years.”

Currently, data gathering and analysis still relies on hand measurements with many man-hours in the field. Ruth Mann, head of integrated crop technologies at Agrii added: “Trials programmes are in desperate need of innovation, As most monitoring is still done visually, manually, and in person.”

Drone Ag’s specialism in drone automation, artificial intelligence, and data pipelines means that its trial plot analysis automation will allow companies and research bodies to monitor and assess trials with a far greater level of speed, precision and repeatability than current methods.

Working with support from industry leaders such as Agrii, Eurofins Agroscience Services, and UPL, we aim to provide fully automated drone flights from on-site base stations, as frequently as desired. Offering unparalleled analysis and integration powered by our proprietary artificial intelligence, allowing companies to monitor, assess and interrogate their trials with greater accuracy at a fraction of the cost in time.

Graham Poulton, global head of agronomic digital innovation team at UPL added: “UPL are excited to see DroneAg’s solutions being applied to Research & Development trials. We are very supportive as we see many benefits to our own operations, including staff well-being. We hope in supporting this others will also come to benefit, which is aligned to UPLs OpenAg mission.”

Jack Wrangham founder of Drone Ag said: “Crop research and development is an extremely important factor in moving agriculture toward infinite sustainability. We are very excited to receive Innovate UK’s backing, and support from Agrii, UPL and Eurofins to help develop a version of the Skippy Scout platform that will revolutionise crop trials monitoring and analysis.”

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