BioScout's drone could give producers a two-week head start on disease detection


What if you could tell a disease was present before seeing the physical symptoms of it spreading through a crop? That’s what BioScout is looking to bring to producers with what they are touting as the world’s first automated spore trap.

Lewis Collins, CEO of BioScout, was on site with his team at Ag in Motion showcasing the innovation for the ag-tech sector.

“It picks up all the little particles in the air around us. So we’re talking pollen, but most importantly, the spores that cause diseases on farms. We’re looking at botrytis, we’re looking at sclerotinia in canola, head blight in wheat. We can tell you when those diseases come onto your property, come on to the crop, weeks before you could see the symptoms they cause, which gives farmers the time to actually apply the fungicides at the exact moment as best use,” explains Collins.

The drones, which also act as weather stations, are positioned as static traps on the farm and are then analyzing data 24/7 through an algorithm which Collins says only gets better with time.

“So the best thing about our system is the game learns as we go. So on different properties, and in different countries, diseases look a little bit different. So we can actually get better and better as the season goes on. And as we go along the years on a farm, and learning exactly what the disease looks like, on your farm, and not just on someone else’s,” shares Collins.

The drone will cost growers approximately $10,000 per year which includes the drone itself plus the servicing and maintenance of the drone along with access to experts in pathology.

“So every two weeks, we’re on the phone to our growers, discussing what we’re seeing working out if their sprays are being effective. And what we can do better in terms of disease management,” says Collins.

BioScout has launched and is selling commercially, with drones on approximately a dozen farms in Australia with hopes of funding and distribution in Canada in the near future.

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