Two Derry students create app to help prevent crop disease

  • Two young students from St Mary’s Grammar School in Magherafelt have launched an innovative new "CropSafe" app that could help fight crop disease around the world.

    The AgriTech sector has exploded in recent years with new technologies helping to increase crop yields, reduce waste, and make agriculture safer for everyone involved. The spread of crop disease and contamination costs farmers up to £5 billion each year, with entire fields of crops such as wheat and potatoes often having to be scrapped.

    Now it looks like two young Derry boys may have a cost-effective solution that could help farmers save some of that cost. John McElhone and Micheal McLaughlin, both 18 and from agricultural backgrounds, have partnered with Kainos Academy to produce the CropSafe app, which uses access to satellite technology to track crops and alert their owners to the spread of disease earlier.

    Current crop surveying methods involve hiring aircraft or drones that can be as expensive as £20 per acre, but the satellite system will be a much smaller and simpler payment per acre scanned and eliminates all of the organisational overhead of surveying. The pair created the app at a Kainos CodeCamp event and since then it's taken first place at the BelTel EDU pitching event and at another pitching event at Google HQ in Dublin.

    John McElhone spoke about the potential for the technology to be used globally, saying "Coming from a rural background, we were well aware of the devastating loss of income to farmers when crops are diseased and contamination is allowed to spread. Our solution is to provide farmers with accurate satellite imagery clearly detailing information about the location of disease and its severity, therefore enabling them to quickly take steps to mitigate the problem."

    Source: Written based on press release

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    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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