Drone proves a real worker

Drone proves a real worker for Mark Bollen

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IN CONTROL: Pilot and drone operator Mark Bollen sees a key role for his miniature craft in maximising agricultural output.

IN CONTROL: Pilot and drone operator Mark Bollen sees a key role for his miniature craft in maximising agricultural output.

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Commercial pilot and drone specialist Mark Bollen is fine tuning cutting-edge aerial technology that will enable farmers to maximise their own big-ticket on-farm machinery.

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COMMERCIAL pilot and drone specialist Mark Bollen is fine tuning cutting-edge aerial technology that will enable farmers to maximise their own big-ticket on-farm machinery.

That has included coming up with a paddock map to demonstrate how a fertiliser program could be pinpoint delivered in the volumes necessary to the areas necessary, providing an accuracy almost by the square metre.

He was able to gave a dairy client an analysis of the feed potential of paddocks which he was able to use to better manage which paddocks came next in in his grazing strategy – and how long they could be grazed.

Mark said agronomists and farmers will find near infrared reflectance mapping of crops reveals plant stress – an accurate pointer of where fertilisers are needed or irrigation requires adjustment.

He said using aerial surveys builds “an incredibly detailed” map and turns it into a three-dimensional model on which to base farming strategies.

“Farmers have embraced changes in recent years, have huge investments in cropping machinery and the implementation of GPS technology but in ways that is just a small first step,” he said.

“I can demonstrate by harnessing mapping technology of this accuracy in tandem with their on-ground innovation they will be able to increase outputs and cut costs.”

Using his fleet of DJI Phantom drones Mark has already completed projects of jaw-dropping dimensions, including delivering a micro-detailed map of a 40 square kilometre zone as part of the Barham flood project in partnership with Murray River Council.

“I have a pretty good understanding of what farmers need to take their enterprises to the next level, and have been playing with getting this service right for some time,” he said. 

“What I can show farmers through field trials is just how far we can really take this. There is no doubt in my mind drones, and the amazing performance of things such as thermal imaging using infrared, have capacities the wider farming industry is yet to totally grasp.

“But working with farmers to squeeze every little bit out of every bit of intelligent technology we both have will be good for us all.”

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