An innovative new mobile app for farmers able to pinpoint and identify disease, pests and weeds within fields, and then integrate this data with precision farming software to create targeted treatment plans, saving time, money and unnecessary applications, has won the UK leg of a European business ideas competition using satellite technology.
Intelligent Precision Farming (IPF) beat 72 entries with their “seeCrop” app to be crowned the 2014 UK champion of the European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC), winning £5,000 and extensive business support from the Satellite Applications Catapult, Innovate UK, the UK Space Agency, the European Space Agency and Marks and Clerk, Intellectual Property attorneys.
To rid crops of a disease, pest or weed, farmers typically treat an entire field with a crop protection chemical even if the problem is only found in a specific area. The new app will help farmers to record the precise location and type of disease, pest, or weed causing the problem. Integrating this data with IPF’s precision farming package they can build bespoke chemical prescriptions across a single field using spray equipment with in-built GPS receivers to adjust the rate of inputs automatically depending on where the tractor is in the field.
Speaking last night at the award ceremony in Berlin, Max Dafforn from IPF said: “Winning the competition is great news for IPF and UK arable farmers. Feedback from farmers has identified a need for this product and the ESNC funding and business support means we can accelerate the delivery of “seeCrop” allowing farmers to realise the benefits sooner. In the future, aggregated data from app users could show regional variations in disease and pest pressures as they develop – information which is not currently available in the UK. “seeCrop” therefore represents a real breakthrough in targeted applications as well as disease and pest forecasting. We know the app is going to have a huge impact on the UK arable sector and could revolutionise how crop protection products are applied. Now thanks to the ESNC we get the chance to develop it.”
Presenting IPF with their award, Stuart Martin, CEO, Satellite Applications Catapult said: “The ESNC brings space and business together, enabling the space sector to identify and support ideas with real commercial potential. By 2030, the UK is expected to have a £40bn space based industry and £37bn of that market value will be driven by new products and services such as “seeCrop”. The UK has yet again led the way with the greatest number of entries for a region, an encouraging sign that UK space is “Open for Business”. We congratulate IPF on their success and look forward to helping them drive the product forward.”
Second place was awarded to 2012 ESNC competition winner iGeolise who will receive a prize fund worth £5,000 (£1,000 cash and business support package) for their ‘Meet-Up’ service which extends their innovative travel time platform (making maps searchable by travel time rather than distance) to enable consumers and businesses to identify the optimum location for meeting, therefore minimising travel time, cost and CO2 emissions.
Third place was awarded to Stevenson Astrosat who will receive £1,000 worth of business support for ‘Expedite’ a location system for explorers, comprising wearable technology that continually transmits their position to support and rescue staff without the need to remove clothing (particularly in polar conditions) to operate satellite navigation receivers and phones. The Expedite system will also be used as a remote health monitoring system transmitting each user’s vital health statistics back to a control centre.
Tim Just, Head of Space at Innovate UK, one of the UK ESNC supporters says: “Every ESNC entrant will receive detailed feedback from the team. Whilst winning will undoubtedly fast-track “seeCrop”, our aim is to connect all entrants with commercial potential to be part of the Innovate and Catapult support network, to open up new opportunities and partnerships for these entrepreneurs. Innovate UK is committed to investing £46 million in the agri-tech sector and “seeCrop” will be part of this programme to harness the power of space to create value across the UK economy.”
Catherine Mealing-Jones, Director for Growth, UK Space Agency, one of the competition sponsors says: “New European satellite missions from Earth observation Sentinel satellites to the new navigation and positioning constellation Galileo, means that access to current, accurate imagery and data will only increase. The ESNC continues to be a successful vehicle for encouraging new, ground-breaking ideas that exploit this wealth of knowledge and the breadth and scale of entries in 2014, proves that we are just at the beginning of this data revolution.”
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