Gang-gang buster

Walnut farmers create drone to control pests


Horticulture
Toby Gow and George Manye testing the drone at Campanella Cottage, Mount Wilson

Toby Gow and George Manye testing the drone at Campanella Cottage, Mount Wilson

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A unique approach is keeping Gang-gang Cockatoos from eating green walnut crops.

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CAMPANELLA Cottage owners George and Jane Mayne have found a new way to keep Gang-gang Cockatoos from eating their green walnut crop.

With help from their friend’s son Toby Gow, the couple are testing a custom built drone to see if that will rid them of the birds once and for all.

“The birds want the green walnuts, and pull masses and masses of them off the trees, it’s like a carpet of ping pong balls,” Jane Mayne said.

This is their first year using the drone, which Mr Gow built himself from scratch.

“There are two challenges with this. The first challenge is engineering it, and the second is making it so people (George and Jane’s) age can use it,” Mr Gow said.

“We went from a single drone with a joystick to this one, which has a GPS to fly around the paddock.

“You can enter a pre-made route on a satellite map, so it’s all automated.”

Toby Gow demonstrating the computer program for controlling the drone

Toby Gow demonstrating the computer program for controlling the drone

Importing parts from China, the drone cost $4000 to make and had a battery life of about 15 minutes.

But this is cheap compared to the options on the market.

The drone also has lights and speakers attached, an extra touch that will hopefully scare off the Gang-gang’s for good.

“The birds ruin the crop every year, they’re a huge problem,” Mrs Mayne said.

The couple cannot wait for the birds to come in a few weeks to see if the drone works.

“We’ve tried noises through speakers, but they upset the neighbours instead of the Gang-gangs,” Mrs Mayne said.

“We’ve had things on cables, scary owls, scarecrows, mirror balls, sprayed a bitter tasting substance on the leaves, so hopefully this will work!”

The birds will arrive when the green walnuts are ready for eating in a couple of weeks.

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