Inde Technology Jun 25, 2024 5:32:57 PM


At Inde Technology, we pride ourselves on pushing the boundaries of what's possible with technology. Our recent partnership with PGG Wrightson and its Livestock team on the groundbreaking SkyCount project is a testament to this commitment. 
SkyCount, exclusive to PGG Wrightson, is an innovative system that integrates aerial imagery and AI software to conduct livestock audits at a new level of speed, accuracy and efficiency.

Last week, we were excited to see SkyCount make its highly anticipated debut at Mystery Creek Fieldays 2024, showcasing its revolutionary approach to livestock auditing. The innovative calculation system, integrates aerial imagery and AI software to conduct livestock audits. The footage captured is analysed by an advanced AI model designed to identify and count specific species, including cattle and sheep, across diverse farm landscapes and conditions.

Making the move from traditional to innovative

Traditionally, livestock audits require a team of livestock representatives and farm staff to perform manual counts, a process that is labour-intensive, time-consuming, and potentially stressful for the animals. SkyCount eliminates these issues by conducting accurate counts on a herd or a flock within minutes, and without any disruption to on-farm operations.

SkyCount captures imagery from above, via an autonomous aircraft flying over a paddock at an altitude that goes unnoticed by livestock. Footage is analysed immediately by an artificial intelligence model engineered to identify and count specific species, including cattle and sheep, across diverse farm landscapes and conditions.

PGG Wrightson Livestock General Manager Peter Newbold is excited about the new SkyCount product and says it is a game changer. 

“The response so far has been very enthusiastic. Project leads Roger Lamb and James Steele have developed a product that will add a lot of value to our clients and create efficiencies in the way farms operate,” said Peter.

Developing the model

Now in the final stages of development SkyCount is set to launch commercially in the spring. The technology is currently being tested across various terrains, particularly large paddocks on hill country sheep and beef farms, and has already achieved near 100% accuracy.

“Farmers appreciate its speed and accuracy, and the ability to count livestock without having to move them or disrupt farming operations. We are confident SkyCount is a winner and will make the important on-farm requirement of auditing a flock or a herd much more efficient,” said Peter.

Drone testing landscape

Rik Roberts, Inde’s CTO and Co-Founder, has been leading the efforts to develop, refine and enhance SkyCount and said one of the key challenges Inde has tackled is adapting SkyCount for large open-country farms and mixed stock.

“Unlike narrow dairy farm paddocks, these broader paddocks require a different approach. Combining trigonometry, physics, and drone technology to track each detected animal across multiple images, we've minimised the risk of double or missed counts,” said Rik.

“Additionally, we've recompiled the object detection model for NPU’s – Neural Processing Units, found on Apple Macbook and more recently Copilot+ PC chipsets to process video in real-time. This capability not only provides immediate value to farmers by reducing administrative and monitoring time, but also offers PGG Wrightson and the livestock team critical data for better forecasting of inventory and making more accurate decisions regarding crop and herd management.”


Enhancing farm management for the future

Inde is excited about the potential and numerous applications of SkyCount's technology and is currently exploring how drones can assist with counting additional animal types, and other on-farm entities. Our goal is to continue pushing the boundaries of what's possible with AI and aerial imaging, ensuring our solutions remain at the forefront of agricultural technology and beyond.

Inde’s partnership with PGG Wrightson has resulted in the creation of a truly transformative solution for livestock audits. SkyCount exemplifies the power of combining cutting-edge technology with industry expertise to solve real-world challenges.

“As we continue to refine and expand this technology, we look forward to exploring new ways to enhance farm management and support the agricultural community. Together, we're paving the way for a more efficient and technologically advanced future in farming,” said Rik.

SkyCount Counting


About the author

Inde Technology

Inde Technology is a New Zealand employee-owned and operated, cloud-first provider of enterprise technology solutions with offices across the country. As a specialist solution provider, we focus on providing leading solutions to our customers based on best-of-breed products delivered by our highly skilled team. We enable our customers to quickly solve challenges, gain insight, and achieve end-user outcomes.