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Gloucestershire Business News

SPECIAL REPORT: Get off my... airspace?

Cirencester's Royal Agricultural University has launched a promotion to landowners in a bid to draw interest to the fast-growing field of drone technology in agriculture.

Under the banner of "innovation and incubation", Farm491 is the RAU's seedbed project for new ideas in agritech and, members of the forum, which is based at the university, cover sectors from aquaponics and AI to robotics and waste-to-value.

Drone Agritec Ltd is a key project from the initiative - a new venture offering autonomous drone services to the agricultural, horticultural and forestry sectors.

As a dramatic claim from such technology, a two-hour drive around a 678-hectare farm can be replaced by a drone sweep that takes 30 minutes.

An RAU spokesman told "Set up by Edward Coxwell-Rogers and Nick Ingram, the shared vision is to modernise farming practices with the use of drones alongside conventional machinery to improve yields, lower input costs and reduce environmental impact."

They added: "Nick has been flying commercial drones for over 10 years and Ed has a foundation in Agronomy and has experience using drones to monitor crop health, allowing them to create a partnership well positioned to introduce this new technology."

Farm491 is part financed by the GFirst LEP Gloucestershire Growth Deal 2015 to 2021 and the European Union Regional Development Fund.

Underlining the importance of drone usage in farming, a recent study by Connected Places Catapult, together with Agri-EPI centre, showcased innovative examples of using AI and drone technology in the agriculture sector to improve efficiency, sustainability, and profitability for farmers.

The study pointed to multiple benefits from investment in the airborn technology.

To prepare for their first round of investment, Drone Agritec is seeking views from interested parties, with an online survey via this link. A selected winning response will be awarded a case of wine.

‚óŹ Stakeholders can access the Drone Agritec survey here.

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