Top Crop Manager

Precision Ag
Farmers use drones and data to boost crop yields

August 13, 2015 - Drones have long been used for military purposes, but Nova Scotia-based start-up Sky Squirrel Technologies Inc. has found a more peaceful use for the technology.

Sky Squirrel deploys small drones equipped with infrared cameras to cruise the skies over vineyards, sending back images that help growers monitor for moisture level, disease, rot, insect damage and general crop health – all things that contribute to the quality of the grapes and the resulting wine.

In the past, farmers would have had to walk their fields, taking samples back to send off to the lab. “If you have hundreds of acres, that is just not feasible,” says Richard van der Put, the Swiss-born co-founder and chief technology officer for Sky Squirrel.

In comparison, the company’s drone technology takes as many as 500 images during a single flight. “Our clients send the images to us via the cloud and we combine them into a map,” says van der Put. “Then we use a specialized image algorithm that allows us to assess crop health.” With the help of GPS positioning on their mobile devices, farmers, “can see where they are currently in the field and correlate that with the analysis” to pinpoint areas of concern, van der Put says.

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