Yield loss diagnosis is one of the features of a new system developed by Omega Crop. Weed mapping and disease prediction is achieved using data gained from multiple sources – satellite, drones, smartphones, hyper-local weather – is layered into Omega Crop’s proprietary crop model, resulting in either a yield loss event prediction or diagnosis; the findings are delivered to the agronomist or farmer as actionable intelligence.
Jared Bainbridge, co-founder and CEO of Omega Crop, presented in the Start-Up Showcase at Agri-TechE’s REAP conference. He explains that its software can predict when and in which fields the diseases are most likely to occur, to enable field-level disease prevention spraying.
“Weed mapping and disease prediction saves money on-farm – weeds and fungal diseases can account for anywhere between 35-50% yield losses each year. Spraying is expensive, but losing half your yield is worse, so farmers tend to spray preventatively. By using our disease prediction model, farmers and agronomists can reduce or delay spraying to provide a direct cost saving and still protect yields.”
“For winter wheat, diseases can feel like an ever-present threat. By employing our disease prediction model, we can forecast disease pressure in the coming weeks. This provides the farmer and agronomist with the intelligence necessary to decide when and how to spray; for example, ‘I don’t have a disease event for two weeks and I have good weather for spraying for 10-12 days. I can wait and in effect buy the 10 days.” Then they can save more days later in the year at different times, so much so that by the end they have either reduced the total number of sprays or extended their disease protection period for far longer than usual for the same cost.”
Omega Crop‘s crop model can also identify weeds at a plant-by-plant level for targeted interventions.
Jared says: “Weeds are expensive to treat at any time, be it between or during the crop growing cycle. Where other providers can only map weeds when there is nothing else in the field, Omega Crop can map your weeds in your field during the crop growing cycle. This means that you the farmer or agronomist can diagnose, map and treat a weed issue during the year. Omega Crop uses millimetre level precision data to identify weeds, resulting in highly accurate results and cost savings for farmers by reducing the total area treated.”
For one farmer, whose farm normally achieves 8.9t/ha, the system advised that due to weed pressure he was likely to see a fall in yield but if he acted immediately this reduction would be limited to 8.1t/ha. He chose not to intervene and six weeks before harvest Omega Crop gave the revised estimate of 6.4t/ha. At harvest the actual yield was found to be 6.43t/ha. Omega Crop was within 0.5% of actual wet weight.
Omega Crop’s proprietary crop model is also able to provide yield predictions; in the UK this can be as early as March/April on Winter cereals.
Jared says: “We can provide very accurate disease, weed and yield predictions, particularly on winter wheat, barley, maize, oats and we’re increasingly pushing on to other crops such as soybeans.”
Omega Crop’s co-founders, Jared Bainbridge (CEO) and Grant Whittle (CTO), closed a seed round for £1.2M from Oxford Science Enterprises (previously Oxford Science Innovation) in May 2021. It is working directly with farmers and agronomists to develop a crop intelligence system that works with any third party hardware.