Drone a farm saviour

Shepparton News - Country News - - MAN’S BEST FRIEND -

Yea farmer Wayne Lord­ing sits on his ve­ran­dah, sips a cuppa and sends his drone to check the horses and cows.

A qual­i­fied he­li­copter pi­lot, Mr Lord­ing is also build­ing Aus­tralia’s first agri­cul­ture­spe­cific drone.

‘‘Farm­ers have got to look at bet­ter and more cost-ef­fec­tive ways to man­age their prop­er­ties and drones are the best way to do it,’’ Mr Lord­ing said on Thurs­day.

Mr Lord­ing hopes to equip the $5000 drone with many small cam­eras and a small tank to spray weeds.

The Yea-based farmer of­ten uses drones to check his cat­tle, sav­ing time go­ing out on horse­back, by trac­tor, or car.

‘‘Some­times I just sit on the back ve­ran­dah hav­ing a cuppa. I’ll send the drone out to look at the wa­ter troughs and see if the horses are okay. That saves me a lot of time,’’ he said.

He is still look­ing at ways to ex­tend the drone’s 30-minute flight time.

‘‘Flight times are the big­gest prob­lem for agri­cul­tur­al­ists,’’ he said.

Mr Lord­ing will be at the Avalon Air­show near Gee­long with his home­made drone and will speak about how tech­nol­ogy can im­prove farm­ing prac­tices.

Avalon Air­show spokesman Tom Ben­nett said drones were al­ready be­ing used on farms, but were set to be much more widely used as the tech­nol­ogy de­vel­oped.

‘‘Drones are the fastest grow­ing in the sec­tor of Aus­tralian avi­a­tion,’’ he said.

The con­fer­ence will show­case a range of drones and their use in search and rescue, emer­gency ser­vices, in­dus­try and for am­a­teur en­thu­si­asts.

The Avalon Air­show will be held at the Avalon Air­port from March 3 to 5.

Mean­while, a new app is be­ing de­vel­oped to help peo­ple fly­ing drones stay safe. Pic­ture:

The app will show no-drone zones such as aero­dromes, he­li­copter land­ing ar­eas and re­stricted airspace.

Th­ese are all ar­eas where it is not safe or le­gal to fly a drone.

The Civil Avi­a­tion Safety Au­thor­ity has teamed up with spe­cial­ist com­pany Drone Com­plier to de­velop the smart­phone, tablet and web-based app.

The app Can I fly there? is due to be launched in May.

Users of the app can see no-drone zones near their cur­rent lo­ca­tion or en­ter a lo­ca­tion where they want to fly.

The app will be ideal for recre­ational drone fly­ers and peo­ple op­er­at­ing in the new un­der 2 kg com­mer­cial cat­e­gory.

The app is an im­por­tant ini­tia­tive by the Civil Avi­a­tion Safety Au­thor­ity to re­duce the risk of a mid-air col­li­sion be­tween a drone and an air­craft.

Sav­ing time . . . Farm view from a drone, which is a cost-ef­fec­tive way to man­age a prop­erty. James Rovers

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