A drone pilot working for Hummingbird scans a farmer's field.

A drone pilot working for Hummingbird scans a farmer’s field.Photo via Hummingbird Technologies

For thousands of years, farming involved making judgments about water, fertilizers or new seeds with the human eye. Today farmers are using machine-learning tools to boost their yields and help their bottom line. 

One London-based agtech startup has spent the past two years building software that can scan a field and build a map for tractors and other farm machinery to follow, helping bring farming costs down.

Hummingbird Technologies, which has a staff of 40 and is on course to book $1 million in revenue for 2018, hires drone pilots to make detailed aerial photos of fields.

These photos can, depending on the quality of the camera, show detail down to a single blade of grass. The images are analyzed by Hummingbird’s software, which counts the plants in a field, measures each one’s height and “canopy” width, or scans the plants for early signs of disease.

Its software uses computer vision, a form of machine learning, to identify acres of weeds or chlorophyll concentrations more quickly than a single human could.

“We’re picking up readings that tell us about biomass, color, canopy vigor, chlorophyll, to infer how healthy the plant is … in the same way a doctor would monitor the human body,” says Hummingbird’s founder, Will Wells, from the startup’s office on Soho Square in Central London. Such details are more difficult to obtain by satellite, he argues.

The service costs Hummingbird’s customers, who manage farms in the United Kingdom, Australia, Ukraine and Brazil, roughly ₤20 ($26) a year depending on the data they want to collect and utilize.

Hummingbird thinks it can get that price down if farmers start using their own drones. A decent drone that can spend an hour flying autonomously across a typical 500 hectares (about one-and-a-half times the size of New York’s Central Park) might cost a farmer about $20,000, says Ed Plowman, chief scientific officer of Hummingbird. But the investment might be worth it.

With a 100-megapixel camera, farmers can photograph a field to half a centimeter per pixel. Hummingbird’s detection system needs drones to fly out every two weeks on average, but some crops, like potatoes, need more regular flying—every three days or so. “Our secret sauce is in the imagery,” says Wells.

His business model is another example of the gradual step change from Big Data to artificial intelligence. Hummingbird doesn’t just collect a database of numbers but also translates them into decisions about how to irrigate or spray chemicals on a field of corn, potatoes or rapeseed.

Its platform sends those instructions to a farmer in the form of a “shapefile,” a file format with geolocation and topographical data that can be plugged directly into farm equipment with a USB flash drive.

An example of a shapefile image produced by Hummingbird, showing a grid of 10-by-10 meter squares of nitrogen concentration on crops.

An example of a shapefile image produced by Hummingbird, showing a grid of 10-by-10 meter squares of nitrogen concentration on crops. Image via Hummingbird Technologies

Farm tractors have been using GPS positioning for years, and the advancement has already allowed farmers to save tens of thousands of dollars annually on fuel, Wells says, adding that his software represents the next step in farming efficiency.

Wells, who grew up surrounded by farms in Dorset, England, got the idea for Hummingbird while working in healthcare. He believes that image-recognition technology—similar to the kind Facebook uses to scan photos for tagging or that Apple uses to unlock the iPhone X—could support disease diagnosis in plants. Doctors are already using the technology to detect diseases in humans, using MRI scans for instance.

Plowman, the chief science officer, joined the company from British chip designer ARM, where he was head of machine learning. Hummingbird’s machine-learning technology is similar to the the ad-targeting software used to profile people and show them hyper-personalized advertisements online, he says.

Hummingbird Technologies founder Will Wells.

Hummingbird Technologies founder Will Wells.Photo via Hummingbird Technologies

In the case of crops, Hummingbird is building a profile of a field, taking into account variables like the weather, soil and date, and creating a personalized instruction set.

The instructions, which look like a multicolored grid, tell a tractor how much fertilizer or water to spray in specific blocks of 200 square feet, with each block about the size of a single-car garage. Tractors are typically fitted with nozzles that adjust the amount of chemicals they spray based on the shape file.

Cutting costs here can make a big difference to a farmer’s bottom line. An average, 500-hectare field of canola, for instance, would need to be sprayed up to ten times over roughly seven months, says Wells, costing around $400 per hectare, or $200,000 for the season.

Adjusting those nozzles to spray only what each 20-meter section needs — according to the height of the crops or existing nitrogen content—can mean a cost saving to farmers of around 10% or more, he says.

“We’re moving towards a world of perfect information,” Wells adds. “Crops are a factory with no roof on. At some point in the not-too-distant future, whether it’s government or food companies or farmers, anyone involved in farming that needs to eat will have perfect information as to what’s going on.”

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A drone pilot working for Hummingbird scans a farmer's field.

(***** )(******* )A drone pilot working for Hummingbird scans a farmer’s field. Picture through Hummingbird Technologies

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(************** )For countless years, farming included making judgments about water, fertilizers or brand-new seeds with the human eye. Today farmers are utilizing machine-learning tools to enhance their yields and assist their bottom line.

One London-based agtech start-up has actually invested the previous 2 years constructing software application that can scan a field and develop a map for tractors and other farm equipment to follow, assisting bring farming expenses down.

Hummingbird Technologies, which has a personnel of 40 and is on course to book $1 million in income for 2018, works with drone pilots to make comprehensive aerial images of fields.

These images can, depending upon the quality of the video camera, reveal information down to a single blade of lawn. The images are examined by Hummingbird’s software application, which counts the plants in a field, determines every one’s height and “canopy” width, or scans the plants for early indications of illness.

Its software application utilizes computer system vision, a kind of artificial intelligence, to determine acres of weeds or chlorophyll concentrations quicker than a single human could.

” We’re getting readings that inform us about biomass, color, canopy vitality, chlorophyll, to presume how healthy the plant is … in the exact same method a physician would keep track of the body,” states Hummingbird’s creator, Will Wells, from the start-up’s workplace on Soho Square in Central London. Such information are harder to acquire by satellite, he argues.

The service expenses Hummingbird’s clients, who handle farms in the UK, Australia, Ukraine and Brazil, approximately ₤20($26) a year depending upon the information they wish to gather and use.

(************** )Hummingbird believes it can get that rate down if farmers begin utilizing their own drones. A good drone that can invest an hour flying autonomously throughout a normal 500 hectares (about one-and-a-half times the size of New york city’s Central Park) may cost a farmer about $20,000, states Ed Plowman, primary clinical officer of Hummingbird. However the financial investment may be worth it.

With a 100- megapixel video camera, farmers can photo a field to half a centimeter per pixel. Hummingbird’s detection system requires drones to fly out every 2 weeks usually, however some crops, like potatoes, require more routine flying– every 3 days or two.” Our secret sauce remains in the images,” states Wells.

His service design is another example of the progressive action modification from Big Data to expert system. Hummingbird does not simply gather a database of numbers however likewise equates them into choices about how to water or spray chemicals on a field of corn, potatoes or rapeseed.

Its platform sends out those guidelines to a farmer in the type of a “ shapefile,” a file format with geolocation and topographical information that can be plugged straight into farm devices with a USB flash drive.

An example of a shapefile image produced by Hummingbird, showing a grid of 10-by-10 meter squares of nitrogen concentration on crops.

An example of a shapefile image produced by Hummingbird, revealing a grid of10- by-10 meter squares of nitrogen concentration on crops. Image through Hummingbird Technologies(********* )

Farm tractors have actually been utilizing GPS placing for several years, and the development has actually currently permitted farmers to conserve 10s of countless dollars every year on fuel, Wells states, including that his software application represents the next action in farming effectiveness.(********** )(************** )Wells, who matured surrounded by farms in Dorset, England, understood for Hummingbird while operating in health care. He thinks that image-recognition innovation– comparable to the kind Facebook utilizes to scan images for tagging or that Apple utilizes to open the iPhone X– might support illness medical diagnosis in plants. Physicians are currently utilizing the innovation to discover illness in people, utilizing MRI scans for example

(************** )Plowman, the chief science officer, signed up with the business from British chip designer ARM, where he was head of artificial intelligence. Hummingbird’s machine-learning innovation resembles the the ad-targeting software application utilized to profile individuals and reveal them hyper-personalized ads online, he states.

(** )Hummingbird Technologies founder Will Wells.

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Hummingbird Technologies creator Will Wells. Picture through Hummingbird Technologies

(************* )(************** )When it comes to crops, Hummingbird is constructing a profile of a field, considering variables like the weather condition, soil and date, and developing an individualized direction set.

(************** )The guidelines, which appear like a various colored grid, inform a tractor just how much fertilizer or water to spray in particular blocks of200 square feet, with each block about the size of a single-car garage. Tractors are usually fitted with nozzles that change the quantity of chemicals they spray based upon the shape file.

Cutting expenses here can make a huge distinction to a farmer’s bottom line. An average,500-
hectare field of canola, for example, would require to be sprayed as much as 10 times over approximately 7 months, states Wells, costing around$(************************************************ )per hectare, or$(************************************************* ), 000 for the season.

Changing those nozzles to spray just what each20 -meter area requires– according to
the height of the crops or existing nitrogen material– can suggest an expense conserving to farmers of around(********************************************************* )% or more, he states.

” We’re moving towards a world of ideal info, “Wells includes.” Crops are a factory without any roofing on. At some time in the not-too-distant future, whether it’s federal government or food business or farmers, anybody associated with farming that requires to consume will have ideal info regarding what’s going on. “(********** )” readability=”14445172093″ >

A drone pilot working for Hummingbird scans a farmer's field.
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A drone pilot working for Hummingbird scans a farmer’s field. Picture through Hummingbird Technologies(********* )

For countless years, farming included making judgments about water, fertilizers or brand-new seeds with the human eye. Today farmers are utilizing machine-learning tools to enhance their yields and assist their bottom line.

One London-based agtech start-up has actually invested the previous 2 years constructing software application that can scan a field and develop a map for tractors and other farm equipment to follow, assisting bring farming expenses down.

Hummingbird Technologies, which has a personnel of 40 and is on course to book $ 1 million in income for 2018, works with drone pilots to make comprehensive aerial images of fields.

These images can, depending upon the quality of the video camera, reveal information down to a single blade of lawn. The images are examined by Hummingbird’s software application, which counts the plants in a field, determines every one’s height and “canopy” width, or scans the plants for early indications of illness.

Its software application utilizes computer system vision, a kind of artificial intelligence, to determine acres of weeds or chlorophyll concentrations quicker than a single human could.

“We’re getting readings that inform us about biomass, color, canopy vitality, chlorophyll, to presume how healthy the plant is … in the exact same method a physician would keep track of the body,” states Hummingbird’s creator, Will Wells, from the start-up’s workplace on Soho Square in Central London. Such information are harder to acquire by satellite, he argues.

The service expenses Hummingbird’s clients, who handle farms in the UK, Australia, Ukraine and Brazil, approximately ₤ 20 ($ 26) a year depending upon the information they wish to gather and use.

Hummingbird believes it can get that rate down if farmers begin utilizing their own drones. A good drone that can invest an hour flying autonomously throughout a normal 500 hectares (about one-and-a-half times the size of New york city’s Central Park) may cost a farmer about $ 20, 000, states Ed Plowman, primary clinical officer of Hummingbird. However the financial investment may be worth it.

With a 100 – megapixel video camera, farmers can photo a field to half a centimeter per pixel. Hummingbird’s detection system requires drones to fly out every 2 weeks usually, however some crops, like potatoes, require more routine flying– every 3 days or two. “Our secret sauce remains in the images,” states Wells.

His service design is another example of the progressive action modification from Big Data to expert system. Hummingbird does not simply gather a database of numbers however likewise equates them into choices about how to water or spray chemicals on a field of corn, potatoes or rapeseed.

Its platform sends out those guidelines to a farmer in the type of a” shapefile ,” a file format with geolocation and topographical information that can be plugged straight into farm devices with a USB flash drive.

An example of a shapefile image produced by Hummingbird, showing a grid of 10-by-10 meter squares of nitrogen concentration on crops.

An example of a shapefile image produced by Hummingbird, revealing a grid of 10 – by – 10 meter squares of nitrogen concentration on crops. Image through Hummingbird Technologies

Farm tractors have actually been utilizing GPS placing for several years, and the development has actually currently permitted farmers to conserve 10s of countless dollars every year on fuel, Wells states, including that his software application represents the next action in farming effectiveness.

Wells, who matured surrounded by farms in Dorset, England, understood for Hummingbird while operating in health care. He thinks that image-recognition innovation– comparable to the kind Facebook utilizes to scan images for tagging or that Apple utilizes to open the iPhone X– might support illness medical diagnosis in plants. Physicians are currently utilizing the innovation to discover illness in people, utilizing MRI scans for example

.

Plowman, the chief science officer, signed up with the business from British chip designer ARM, where he was head of artificial intelligence. Hummingbird’s machine-learning innovation resembles the the ad-targeting software application utilized to profile individuals and reveal them hyper-personalized ads online, he states.

Hummingbird Technologies founder Will Wells.

Hummingbird Technologies creator Will Wells. Picture through Hummingbird Technologies

When it comes to crops, Hummingbird is constructing a profile of a field, considering variables like the weather condition, soil and date, and developing an individualized direction set.

The guidelines, which appear like a various colored grid, inform a tractor just how much fertilizer or water to spray in particular blocks of 200 square feet, with each block about the size of a single-car garage. Tractors are usually fitted with nozzles that change the quantity of chemicals they spray based upon the shape file.

Cutting expenses here can make a huge distinction to a farmer’s bottom line. An average, 500 – hectare field of canola, for example, would require to be sprayed as much as 10 times over approximately 7 months, states Wells, costing around $ 400 per hectare, or $ 200, 000 for the season.

Changing those nozzles to spray just what each 20 – meter area requires– according to the height of the crops or existing nitrogen material– can suggest an expense conserving to farmers of around 10 % or more, he states.

“We’re moving towards a world of ideal info,” Wells includes. “Crops are a factory without any roofing on. At some time in the not-too-distant future, whether it’s federal government or food business or farmers, anybody associated with farming that requires to consume will have ideal info regarding what’s going on.”

.