A particularly interesting Innovation Grant Applicant is Mark Polson, Director of Perception Drones, based near Falmouth. Mark had his ‘Agri-tech epiphany’ whilst in discussion with an agronomist. Together they identified a satellite technology that could be made applicable on a field scale.
Using high definition sensors and specialist drone platforms, a field can be surveyed and, using precision mapping, relevant data is recorded at various stages for plant health, nutrient management and monitoring which will be referenced against growth and health indices. This technology will enable farmers and producers to have a much more in-depth picture of what is happening in a particular field or area that an agronomist might not be able to readily identify on a farm walk, increasing resource efficiency and reducing production costs. A drone can see from 40 metres above the field what an agronomist might struggle to observe from walking the field at 1.8 metres.
Mark had a prestigious career in the Royal Air Force, and several years in the marine and civil engineering sectors prior to establishing Perception Drones. Mark has a wealth of experience in avionics and electronics, and is custom building the drone platform for his Agri-tech project, to be able to get the appropriate and more importantly, relevant data and information back to the agronomist for analysing: “The agriculture industry in Cornwall is three times that of the UK average, meaning the market here is larger, and has a lot to gain in terms of improved crop management and therefore competitive advantage. This project aims not only to gather data efficiently and in greater detail than currently available, but translate it into a format that is easy to understand and action for the farmer in the field,” says Mark.