Land O’Lakes’ Winfield United to Make Drones More Farmer Friendly


Land O’Lakes, Inc. launched a crowdsourced drone challenge in February and has just named the finalists: Sandhills Robotics of Fayetteville, North Carolina; CreateUAS of the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia; and American Robotics of Boston, Massachusetts.

The aim of the challenge is to help surface valuable, user-friendly drone solutions that will help farmers make better decisions for their crops as they work to produce more food to feed more people.

Because today’s drone solutions require a great deal of time and effort in the data collection and processing workflows, the drone challenge innovators’ proposed solutions must limit the need for human involvement in field data collection, decrease the time needed to access crop imagery and improve the ability for a farmer to make decisions based on field health data.

Based on these criteria, judges from the University of Minnesota and WinField United ag tech experts selected three finalists from 157 entries from 47 countries to compete in a closed live judging event, demonstrating their proposed solutions in a field setting at Westland Dairy, Land O’Lakes member-owner, in Watkins, Minnesota Sept. 20-22.

“We’ve been a leader in deploying ag technology through our WinField United business,” says Mike Macrie, Land O’Lakes chief information officer. ” In the precision and decision agriculture and satellite imaging space, we have a number of tools available that provide value to farmers, like the R7 Tool by WinField and R7 Field Forecasting application.

“We believe drones, with a few more years work and the right financial incentives, can be another useful tool in our farmers’ toolbox.”

A prize of $5,000 is guaranteed for finalists. If a finalist meets all requirements better than any other, they take home $140,000. The winners, if any, will be announced following the judging event and will retain intellectual property rights to the solutions they develop to help farmers use drone technology more effectively.

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