GLENRAC drone workshops brings landholders in sight of new technology in farming

DRONES DAY: Presenters Matt Benham, Russel Smith, Luke Turner and Ben Watts at the second workshop in Stonehenge on Friday afternoon. Photo: Rachel Baxter.

DRONES DAY: Presenters Matt Benham, Russel Smith, Luke Turner and Ben Watts at the second workshop in Stonehenge on Friday afternoon. Photo: Rachel Baxter.

It’s the technology making farming faster, easier and more efficient. 

And it’s easier to access than you think.

GLENRAC hosted two workshops on Friday to introduce local landholders to the latest drone technology, and how to use it.

Ben Watts of Bralca.com and Russel Smith from New England Weeds Authority presented to a crowd of interested farmers who were keen to learn more about how drones can help improve day-to-day practices and the rules and regulations involved.

Mr Smith said drones are useful to reduce the labour and vehicle costs in monitoring weed infestations and the effectiveness of control programs.

Mr Watts, who got involved with the technology about five years ago, explained how drones can capture images that can monitor pastures or fly right down to a heifer and capture a picture so clear it can even detect pinkeye.

“You can really start to make informed decisions about what’s happening in a paddock,” Mr Watts said.

“It’s really just about getting information in, prioritising tasks and possibly reducing travel.”

He said a drone can be useful for jobs such as water runs.

“If you’ve got nice soft country and you’re checking water in a ute – you’ve still got to be out there but maybe you don’t have to be out there as often through using a drone.”

Mr Watts said thanks to increased supply in the drone market, the devices are becoming very affordable.

He said it was also important to make sure not to always go for the biggest and most expensive drone – but to consider exactly what you will need it for.

Local landholder Pat Carney attended the workshop at Stonehenge and said he was impressed with just how useful the devices could be.

“I don’t know much at all about drones so I came out here to find out what the rules and regulations are and what uses they have,” he said.

“So far I’m quite impressed with them actually.”

He said a few years ago he might have been hesitant to consider getting a drone because of how difficult they were to use however improving technology over the years has made them much easier.

“They are a lot easier to fly now than they were a few years ago and they’re pretty hard to crash,” he said.

Rick Shands said before the workshops he wasn’t sure how he would utilise such an instrument, but now had a better understanding.

“It has sparked my interest,” Mr Shands said.

“I would probably use it for checking cows and checking paddocks.”

The other workshop was held at the Dundee Hall.

To find out more about airspace law visit www.casa.gov.au.

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