Congratulations to James Brown and the team at Pollybell Organic who have been awarded Innovation of the Year at the 2019 Food and Farming Industry awards, for founding and funding the agri-tech start-up, Earth Rover.
Problem Pollybell identified the need to reduce wastage of the high value crops they grow including brassicas, leeks and salads.
Solution They created a scouting implement equipped with 3D cameras, precision GPS and an onboard AI powered supercomputer – think of it as Google StreetView for crops.
Every plant in the field is counted, measured and mapped by the Earth Rover equipped tractor and the information accessed via a smartphone app or back in the office with a browser.
In simple terms, the software takes all the photographs, the AI software recognises healthy plants and maps them instantaneously
The research and development team included Professor Simon Blackmore from Harper Adams, a tech team from Barcelona and a team in Shropshire.
The development of the prototype was initially funded by Pollybell who have subsequently brought in external investors. Earth Rover has been successful in securing funding from ESA (European Space Agency) for the commercialisation of space tech for agriculture.
The Earth Rover kit enables farmers to scout large areas of crops and gain information down to individual plant level, gathering data across Europe and creating a platform where growers can see live information on plant location, size and height and over time, rate of growth and plant volume
In this way they identify problems before they are even visible and respond with appropriate solutions.
The team are now at the point where they are able to sell the Earth Rover kit and software to producers.
Non-organic farming Whilst Earth Rover was developed on an organic farm, it can benefit non-organic farmers looking to reduce the need for chemical intervention.
Laser weeding The team behind Earth Rover, are planning to adapt this exciting technology to build further crop intelligence and have begun developing laser weeding technology, which would be mounted on autonomous vehicles or existing farm machinery.
To find out more about Earth Rover, please contact James Brown