Issues Today

In 2017 farmers are faced with renewed economic and environmental pressures. Further support package changes and market uncertainty are on the way due to BREXIT. Demand also grows for the development of sustainable agriculture towards better soil health biology, nutrient efficiency and reduced crop damage. Additional issues include:
MARGIN

Increasing labour and operating costs over next few years will keep margins tight. Farmers diversifying their businesses into other areas have less time for crop management, and more importantly to update procedures in line with modern research.

SOIL FERTILITY

The nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are degraded by growing, and growing a crop repeatedly. Nutrients are also lost due to erosion from heavy rain, water logging and soil compaction from heavy machinery which cause a drop in fertility.

EXTREME WEATHER

Over the last decade there has been an increase in extreme weather. Areas in the south of the UK are frequently effected by drought. On the other hand prolonged periods of rain wash nutrients away and water log soil causing rot.

MACHINERY

Farm equipment faces a long harsh life. The results from cultivation, planting and spraying are not instantaneous making it difficult to diagnose faulty equipment until it’s too late.

INVESTMENT UNCERTAINTY

Profitability year to year is uncertain due to end yield and market prices. This makes it particularly difficult to plan future investments in infrastructure and deal with unexpected surprises.

AGRICULTURAL INTELLIGENCE

Precision agriculture is a means of observing, measuring and responding to variability in crops. The goal for farm management is to optimise returns and preserve resources. This is where we can help!

What We Provide

Precision agriculture is the practice of observing, measuring and responding to variability in crops. Using geographic position and timing, variable rate application can then be used to apply correct amounts of water, fertiliser, pesticides etc. In turn yields are maximised and expenditure lowered.

We supply aerial measurements for crops to create field health reports containing elevation, NDVI and NDRE maps that can then be used by farm management as follows:

PRECISE SCOUTING

Our crop health reports can be viewed on GPS enabled mobile devices such as iPhone, iPad(4G) or Android devices. Any problems identified on the map can be quickly scouted, solutions proposed then actioned.

SEASONAL MONITORING

Ideally we can perform aerial survey prior to each T1-T3 spray stage to aid variable rate application and monitor the growing season in it’s entirety. To monitor pests or disease we can also perform one time surveys.

VARIABLE SPRAYING

Variation in crop health comes from several factors such as topology of the terrain, soil fertility and cultivation. Data from our reports can be input to variable rate application equipment to adjust spray amounts in these areas.

TRIALS

It is difficult to compare trials of different nutrients, herbicides and pesticides. Aerial data makes this possible when trials are applied to recorded areas or strips of land. Our NDVI/NDRE data can then be used to assess the results.

SOIL FERTILITY

Plant health information can be determined from our reports, and in turn the underlying soil fertility. This in conjunction with farm management records and soil samples can be used to make better decisions on what nutrients to apply during growing season.

MACHINERY SELECTION

Aerial data can be used to reveal the performance of cultivation, seeding and spray equipment. This can be use to diagnose machinery that has been wrongly used at the time, requires maintenance or is due for replacement.

Some Examples

Here we include a few examples of different NDVI, NDRE and DTM map layers we provide as part of our survey reports. The NDVI/NDRE reports (left and middle) show healthy crops in green, less healthy in red. The DTM (right) show peaks across a field, from high red to green low.
NDVI Example
NDVI example showing overspray on turns and nutrient variation over terrain peaks.
NDRE Map
NDRE map showing chlorophyll levels early season.
Digital Terrain Model (DTM)
Digital Terrain Model (DTM) showing change in elevation and boundary trees.

How It Works

Vegetation analysis using the NDVI measure was first formulated as part of the NASA Landsat program back in 1972. Using a multispectral scanner mounted on a satellite, researchers found a correlation between the received signals and the biophysical characteristics of the vegetation. In particular Red Edge (RE) and Near Infra-Red (NIR) light were found to be reflected more dominantly in healthy vegetation. These light frequencies are not visible by the human eye and the perception of a green crop as healthy is not always true.

Today technology has evolved far enough that multispectral cameras can be mounted on board small drones. These can be flown in an automated grid formation while capturing imagery to create a layered orthomosaic map of different light frequencies.

A drone mapping mission results in several hundred images that must then be matched and combined to create a georeferened orthomosaic map. To do this operation we use industry leading software Pix4D Mapper Pro. This creates four map layers of interest to agriculture. The orthomosaic layer is the stitched visible layer taken during the survey. This is used to create a digital terrain model to show elevation changes. The multispectral ‘index’ layers can be combined mathematically in different ways to create NDVI and NDRE index maps representative of crop health.

Pix4D AG

 

Client Benefits

Our report data when included with farm management records over time provide powerful agricultural intelligence insights toward better farm management. A number of benefits from our service are:
DISCOUNTED SURVEY

We are offering a highly discounted aerial survey for farmers with pricing per acre. Our growing season packages for multiple visits and larger farms have up to a further 25% reduction in price.

SEASONAL MONITORING

The maps we provide are georeferenced and can be added to GIS software such as ArcGIS, QGIS and GlobalMapper, among others, for farm management. Field data and observations can be managed over time through the season and between years.

HEALTH REPORTS

The health reports contain four types of georeferenced map information: visible imagery; elevation data; NDVI index – a measure of vigour and biomass; NDRE index – a measure of leaf chlorophyll and nutrient status.

ACTIONABLE DATA

Our crop health reports contain actionable data. Along with scouting tools problems can be assessed on the ground and decisions quickly made on spraying schedule, amount and type.

SCOUTING TOOLS

We provide mobile tools for field scouting where the report NDVI/NDRE map layer can be viewed along with real time GPS position in the field. The crop can be inspected in this location for disease or soil samples taken.

CAA APPROVED

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) require commercial organisations using UAVs to be PFCO approved. We are qualified, hold CAA PFCO (3848) and insured to £5M. We are members of ARPAS and stay updated on this rapidly changing industry.

Package Pricing

Our agricultural monitoring survey packages are priced per acre. In most cases the client will require a smaller portion of the entire farm acreage for assessment. Our example prices assume 75% arable use of the farm total. Our packages are designed to give you all the information and tools we can provide to aid your agricultural intelligence over the growing season. Prices exclude UK VAT at 20%.
PAYG

£0.80

Any size

Pay as you

use

One visit only

Example: 40 acre field £32

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SMALL

£2.28

5% saving

Small Farm

Under 200 acres

Three visits

Example: 100 acre farm £171

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MEDIUM

Recommend

£2.16

10% saving

Medium Farm

200-400 acres

Three visits

Example: 300 acre farm £485

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LARGE

£1.80

25% saving

Large Farm

Over 400 acres

Three visits

Example: 600 acre farm £810

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