The next generation of Australian farmers are likely to be more tech savvy if Parkes schoolboy Toby Field is any indication.
A sixth generation farmer, 12 year old Toby loves all things agriculture and enjoys nothing more than helping out on the family farm ‘Mandeville’ which is approximately five kilometres outside of Parkes in the state’s central west.
Significantly, this love led him to cross paths with drone technology and he now plans to implement it into the farming practices.
‘Mandeville’ is run by Toby’s dad Andrew, his uncle, and his grandfather.
They run around 2000 merino ewes crossed with dorsets or white suffolks while also growing cereal winter crops including wheat, barley and canola, and pasture crops to feed their sheep.
After seeing a drone when he was 10, Toby decided he wanted one and saved up to buy one.
To raise the necessary money, Toby was forced to work pretty hard.
He bagged and sold manure, raised poddy lambs and drove the chaser bin for his father during harvest to fund his purchase.
Toby raised 12 poddy lambs last year, hand feeding them every day.
He sold them for between $98 and $175.
“I usually get around $130,” Toby said.
“When I first started, I bought eight lambs from dad for $30 and sold them for $98.
“I didn’t make much profit.
“Then I bought some ewes from another farmer who retired and borrowed dad's ram.
“Even raising poddy lambs I have to pay for the milk myself.
“It is probably the hardest job I do,” he said.
Toby bought a DJI Phantom 4 drone valued at around $2000 and uses it for a few jobs on the farm.
He is looking at more ways to use it and wants to start his own side business hiring his drone flying skills out to other farmers.
”I first saw a drone when I was about 10 at a local field days,” Toby said.
When asked what he did for fun, Toby’s passion for the land shines through.
“I just enjoy doing all the jobs I do on the farm,” Toby said.
“I don’t want to do anything else.”
After months of saving and research, Toby Field shelled out $2000 for his drone.
“I went into the shop around 10 times to look at it and ask questions to make sure it was right for what I needed,” Toby said.
“My drone flies up to 500 metres high and about a distance of 3km, and has a flight time of 25 minutes while flying up to 80km an hour.
“If you stop using the controls it will just hover, that’s what you get for $2,000.”
Toby uses it on the farm to check water troughs and gates, and check on the ewes when they are lambing.
He is also looking at other ways to make use of his drone on farm.
Toby is considering how his drone can be used with Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) technology to analyse crop health.
He has already used his drone to take some good photos of the weather and harvest machinery in action.
Toby is already working hard to save up for his next purchase and you can be sure it will be something that he will use in his work on the farm.