How drones could be controlling ag in a few years

Drones to be flying themselves and completing farm jobs in no time


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Gavin Burey, Maree Downs, Amby is one of many farmers now using drones.

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Gavin Burey with his Phantom 4 drone he has been using to muster and check waters.

Gavin Burey with his Phantom 4 drone he has been using to muster and check waters.

IT might not seem like it now but in a few years time Amby producer Gavin Burey could wake up in the morning and find most of his jobs already completed.

The crop grower and cattle producer purchased his first Phantom 4 drone three months ago and has already begun using it to muster cattle and check water supplies.

But due to rapid drone advancements it seems the flying technology could be doing a lot more within the agriculture sector in no time.

Mr Burey showcased his drone at the Machinery for the Maranoa field day for a crowd of almost 100 people including 2015 Telstra Business Woman of the Year Dr Catherine Ball on Friday.

The owner of Maree Downs, Mr Burey grows 7000 acres of grain and forage crops on the property and turns off 800-1000 feeder steers each year.

He initially planned to use the drone to gain full scale imagery data of his crops after he wasn’t able to access more than the edges of a heavy 2016 winter chickpea crop.

Gavin Burey and his drone.

Gavin Burey and his drone.

“I was just frustrated at finding where the diseases were and what was going on across the paddock rather than just seeing what was beside the road,” he said.

“But away from the cropping side I mustered cattle in this block across the highway which runs back into some range country.

Gavin Burey's drone being put to work.

Gavin Burey's drone being put to work.

“I took my ute up there with the drone and used the drone to fly around through all the timbered patches and the hollows. It did the job that I would normally take four or five hours to do on the bike.”

The rapid development of drones means aircrafts are obsolete within a few months of their release and the focus is now turning to building drones for specific sectors.

Dr Catherine Ball spoke at the robotics and drone field day.

Dr Catherine Ball spoke at the robotics and drone field day.

Chinese and Japanese manufacturers are already looking to build drones  specifically for agriculture.

Speaking to the crowd, Dr Catherine Ball said with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority deregulating drone use for landowners the agriculture sector had an opportunity and niche to utilise larger and longer range equipment.

She said people shouldn’t worry about having to fly drones because they would be flying themselves in a year’s time and would be checking fence lines, water troughs, cattle and weeds on their own.

“You will have a computer with an artificial intelligence algorithm that’s basically planning what your drones are doing for you that particular day,” she said.

Gavin Burey and Dr Catherine Ball speaking to the crowd about drones.

Gavin Burey and Dr Catherine Ball speaking to the crowd about drones.

“You wake up in the morning and all you do is look at a traffic light system of green, all is good or red, that bit of fence has fallen over.

“There are different things that you can train your systems to look for.”

She said the speed of drone technology meant that if producers didn’t have a drone in the next year they would be working with one in the next five years.

“I am absolutely convinced that these will be useful tools in agriculture when applied appropriately,” she said.

The story How drones could be controlling ag in a few years first appeared on Queensland Country Life.

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