What's Holding Back Drones?

AUSTRALIA - The manifold benefits of using drones in livestock production have led experts in innovation and farm systems to ask the question of why wider adoption still hasn’t taken place.
calendar icon 12 March 2015
clock icon 2 minute read

They say too much legislation is “stifling” the drone industry, while a dearth of profit and pay-back data means producers don’t know whether Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are a worthy investment. read more

The economic impacts of this could be great, according to a House of Lord’s committee report that estimates 150,000 jobs could be created in the drone sector across Europe by 2050.

Dr Dave Henry of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is trialling drones across farm systems in Australia, finding out that the direct benefits are more apparent to crop production.

“With a crop, in my view, it’s a relatively simple effort in understand that if I change an input then I will get a certain result,” Dr Henry told TheBeefSite.

“Margins per head are tight. Farmers need to have a very convincing return on their investment if they are going to do something differently as a result of new information from the drone.”

However, he outlined several good applications for the drones in Australia.

  1. Locating cattle in the extensive northern environments to make mustering more efficient, lower cost, and safer
  2. Vegetation monitoring – quantity and quality of vegetation (pastures) for improved feed utilisation, grazing management, optimal use of inputs such as water and fertiliser, reduced environmental impact
  3. Land condition & waterway monitoring – to ensure optimal environmental outcomes (eg sufficient ground cover to reduce erosion, reduced pugging in high rainfall areas)
  4. Infrastructure monitoring in remote locations – reduced cost of labour to drive all the way out somewhere to check manually

Designers say battery life and speed of flight, as well as susceptibility to wind, are practical constraints on the drones impacting on a primary livestock need – covering rangelands.

However, the UK farming industry heard about the merits of drones at the recent Precision Livestock conference in Newark.

Farmers were told how using drones across different farm enterprises shares expense. read more

Livestock tags also enable movements to be monitored in a livestock theft situation, the conference heard.

Michael Priestley

Michael Priestley
News Team - Editor

Mainly production and market stories on ruminants sector. Works closely with sustainability consultants at FAI Farms

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