Aerobotics aims to perform the most difficult tasks on behalf of the grower: going out into the field to collect data, track growth and monitor pest and disease pressure. These tasks traditionally come with a high labour cost and low accuracy due to human error and few sample points, coupled with poor documentation.
“Growers experience annual losses of 15 to 30% due to pest and disease,” Aerobotics CEO James Paterson said at the launch of their newest app, the Aeroview InField. The company means for its apps to be incorporated into the farm’s workflow and assist in farm management through assigning tasks.
While the Aeroview app is best viewed on the bigger screen of a laptop, the new InField app fills the gap of data collection right in the orchard and replaces the Aeroview Scout app. It guides the user to a trouble spot and sends all collected data back to Aeroview for analysis. Drone maps can be downloaded to the app.
“With new technology there were a number of new apps which we wanted to consolidate into a new app to allow for a simpler user experience,” James explained. Assigning weekly tasks has been made easier from a scout’s point of view, who can find a problem and fix its position, in order to revisit and monitor. The app can devise random scouting routes for soil and leaf sampling.
Grower using Aeroview InField to collect data in a citrus orchard
Multiple data points can be entered per tree (a big change from the Aeroview Scout app) regarding the evidence of pest or disease, the state of irrigation or weed pressure or – and this is a new feature in response to user feedback – to note that there is no evident problem.
“Probably the biggest improvement is the user experience,” James continued. “The app guides you, asks you what you want to do and explains how to add a data point as you are standing in front of the tree. We’ve tried our best to keep it simple.”
Another new feature to the app is the chlorophyll map (only available if a drone with a multispectral camera is used, for farmers who employ their own drones) and it will be available on all subsequent flights. This feature is very useful when scouting for a disease like Phytophthora (root rot) on avocado trees, where low chlorophyll is a strong indicator of the disease.
The chlorophyll levels of individual Hass avocado trees in Tzaneen, as displayed on the Aeroview InField app
Back in the office, the collected data is incorporated into previous data on the Aeroview platform, displayed as a report or a graph, showing weekly numbers of, say, false codling moth for which a threshold can be set. For Southern African growers the information is designed to be easily exported to the Phytclean platform.
The Aeroview InField app can also be used to control drones, for farmers using their own drones, enabling farmers to obtain 360 degree images of a tree, taken at a close range of 5 metres. The company is also working on a yield management tool, used to make decisions regarding thinning out as well as estimating the harvest.
The app is currently available in English and Afrikaans, and will soon be available in Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and French.
Aerobotics is currently active in 18 countries, where more than 27 million trees have been captured by their AI systems.
For more information:
South Africa: +27 21 035 1060
United States: +1 772 584 9762