The Northern Daily Leader

New flight-app set to save farmers time and money

Edward Barraclough (pictured) will launch Drone-Hand in August to support farmers and their livestock in an industry under mounting pressure. Picture supplied
Edward Barraclough (pictured) will launch Drone-Hand in August to support farmers and their livestock in an industry under mounting pressure. Picture supplied

This is branded content for Drone-Hand

A new flight-app could save farmers up to $2,000 per day due to its ability to monitor livestock and property from the air.

Drone-Hand is the first Australian-made commercially available, user friendly, Ai driven, automated flight-app which was created to support farmers and their livestock in an industry under mounting pressure.

Edward Barraclough, an aerial photographer, came up with the innovative product following a passing comment from his dad who is a livestock farmer in New South Wales.

"My dad is still on the farm at 83, and one day I was visiting him and taking some photos at the end of the day, and he looks over my shoulder and says, "If that could check the sheep and cattle for me, I could stay on the farm longer"," Mr Barraclough said.

Fast-forward to 2024, after two years of tireless research, development, applying for grants, participating in Farmers2Founders accelerator programs, and speaking with farmers, Drone-Hand will launch in August, with invitations to join trials programs not only from properties across Australia, but from the US, Canada and Argentina.

Mr Barraclough said by integrating proprietary machine learning algorithms tailored to Australian datasets and a drone-agnostic flight control app, Drone-Hand enhances sustainability and security in broadacre livestock farming while significantly improving efficiency.

"This includes cutting staffing expenses, minimising vehicle usage and carbon emissions, reducing time commitments, and lowering livestock mortality rates through real-time aerial property and livestock management," he said.

"Essentially, we use autonomous drones to capture change to save farmers time and money."

Real-time image-based ML analysis provides key information instantly, including livestock location and count. Picture supplied
Real-time image-based ML analysis provides key information instantly, including livestock location and count. Picture supplied

Real-time image-based ML analysis provides key information instantly for:

  • livestock location,
  • livestock count,
  • identification of pre-defined livestock issues,
  • changes in water sources and infrastructure.

Drone-Hand is designed to work with off-the-shelf drones all the way up to long distance enterprise drones agnostic of brand, and integrable with "Drone-in-a-Box" remote stations, and long distance VTOL drones, allowing coverage of small to very large farms.

Mr Barraclough said after speaking with hundreds of farmers, there were two pain points that were really affecting them - time and money.

"To safeguard their investment, farmers spend hours driving around their farm daily, monitoring animal health and wellbeing, detecting and preventing livestock losses from theft and damaged fences, and assessing the condition of water sources and pastures," he said.

"The consequences of insufficient monitoring are severe: for example the feedlot beef industry losses due to preventable mortality surpasses $50 million, and annual losses from stock theft exceed $70 million.

"Climate change has already slashed farm profits by 23 per cent in the last decade, with projected losses reaching $1.5 billion annually by 2061."

Drone-Hand works with any type of drone and allows coverage of small to very large farms. Picture supplied
Drone-Hand works with any type of drone and allows coverage of small to very large farms. Picture supplied

Some challenges farmers are facing:

  • Increasing staffing costs and shortages,
  • Farmer's physical limitations / time constraints,
  • Stock theft and animal welfare / NVD and LPA requirements,
  • Climate events such as floods and increased grass-fire risk,
  • Rough and inaccessible land,
  • Disturbance of livestock.

Mr Barraclough said Drone-Hand aimed to address some of these problems to make life a bit easier for farmers.

"We differentiate ourselves by not only being more flexible, cheaper and the fastest to set up and adapt than current market competitors, such as GPS tagging systems, but by being able to process our analysis offline and in-device, not in the cloud," he said.

"Our case studies indicate cost savings of between $150 and $2,000+ per day by using Drone-Hand semi-autonomous and fully autonomous systems to supplement or replace current monitoring routines."

Mr Barraclough said this year, Drone-Hand had been awarded $77,000 in grants from LaunchVic, Startspace and Farmers2Founders.

"We are gearing up to launch in the coming months, and have just opened our first pre-seed funding round, with investors already committed," he said.

To book your free trial, visit drone-hand.com.

This is branded content for Drone-Hand