Down2Earth Sensing Takes Flight!
Climate-KIC start-up ‘Down2Earth Sensing’, formerly known as ‘Aquademia’, is generating lift in the agriculture sector. By ensuring farmers higher crop yields at lowered risks, using the ‘AgriDrone’.
The AgriDrone collects detailed information on the current state of the farmers’ crops. This allows farmers to make informed decisions and vary the amount of water and fertilizer use, dependent on the condition of the field.
In collaboration with Dutch farmers; Down2Earth Sensing uses a small drone to fly above the farmers crop fields and take high resolution pictures of the crops below. The AgriDrone images crop stress real-time and with a high resolution; locating potential drought and wet damage, nutrients shortage within the agricultural plot and give a detailed water supply or nutrient advice to the farmer. Farmers can tune their water supply or nutrient supply to the specific crop requirements, thereby increasing crop yield. This increases profitability and improves the financial perspective of the farmer.
Down2Earth Sensing and Climte-KIC’s Partners
After being awarded Climate-KIC’s Knowledge Voucher for 2013’s Climate Adaptation Business Challenge, Down2Earth Sensing paired up with knowledge partner FutureWater to help develop and test the AgriDrone product. Around the same time this innovative clean tech start-up was also granted stage 1 access to Climate-KIC’s accelerator programme. “Thanks to the combination of expert coaching, access to Climate-KIC’s partner network and the financial room from both awards, we could start product development much sooner. This has helped us tremendously with testing and validating our business case during this year’s growing season.” says Ronald Loeve, co-founder of Down2Earth Sensing.
“Down2Earth Sensing came to us with a valid research question which aligned with our businesses core activities. We were very pleased working together and are happy with the final results of the project”
-P. Droogers, FutureWater
Crunching the Numbers
The AgriDrone flies at about 100m above the crops taking high-resolution images at both visible light and infrared wavelengths. The data generated by the images consists of several gigabytes of data, requiring specialized equipment to allow further analysis. The images are stitched together and paired to various crop indexes, to come to meaningful conclusions. The drone itself weighs less than 3 kilo’s and carries, besides high resolution imaging equipment, very powerful tracking and location equipment. The Drone’s flight path is programmed and loaded into the drone prior to take-off, the drone then executes the entire flight virtually autonomously. At the moment the typical size of a recorded parcel is around 50 ha., the size of a typical Dutch crop field. Down2Earth Sensing mentions: “… when it comes down to parcel size it’s the bigger the better!” this is due to the logistical difficulties, pre-programming of flight paths and off course relatively high call-out fees. Down2Earth Sensing is for this reason looking to expand their business into larger markets, or perhaps ‘bundle’ parcels together and offer farmers spread across a larger area their insights. Besides the agricultural sector Down2Earth Sensing is looking for different markets where high resolution spatial data collected by airborne sensors are needed. A promising market is the inspection of dikes and levees for water management authorities. Down2Earth Sensing will start a pilot in 2015 in collaboration with a regional water management authority.
“Thanks to the combination of expert coaching, access to Climate-KIC’s partner network and the financial room from both awards, we could start product development much sooner.”
– Ronald Loeve, Down2Earth Sensing
The AgriDrone solution makes it possible for farmers to cut down the amount of fertilizer and water used for irrigation, resulting in a significant reduction of the resources used. In addition, the AgriDrone makes it possible for farmers to inspect the condition of its crops. This could stop the abundant use of crop protection products (herbicides and pesticides) and only spray them where and when they are needed, resulting in up-to 60% less crop protection products used per harvest. “Our initial target are large ‘smart farmers’: digital –modern- precision farmers who are willing to implement and make use of ‘innovative’ technologies to help increase yield, and minimize stress on the field”.
In any case, Down2Earth Sensing is working to implement an upcoming –new- technology, to increase crop yields while minimizing waste. With the full support of Climate-KIC and its partners, the expertise of FutureWater and the ambition and years long experience of the management team; we have high expectations for this company, and expect Down2Earth Sensing to fly towards clear skies!
For more information, please visit the website or send an .
Contact: Ronald Loeve
Location: Utrecht, the Netherlands
Address: Mgr. van de Weteringstraat 18, 3581 EH Utrecht
Founding Year: 2014