Water for Profit seminars
SELF-CONFESSED nerd and Derwent Valley farmer Will Bignell says drone technology does have a role to play in today’s farming systems.
Mr Bignell was a guest speaker at last week’s Water For Profit event at Longford.
He told farmers he had always been interested in flying technology and started out with radio-controlled planes, which he would crash on a regular basis.
A passion for data and analytics meant that drone technology was always something Mr Bignell was going to be fascinated with.
He built his first drone using basic materials which included a tupperware container, and from there his interest in drones took off.
Mr Bignell said 2011 “really marked the battle of the nerd drones”.
“Back then I could build a drone for $200 and use it to look at a poppy crop and see any problems, and just take a heap of photos and have a good time,” he said.
Mr Bignell said that in 2015 the consumer drone boom started and they were the must-have item.
While there are now a huge range of drones available, at much more competitive prices, Mr Bignell said they were not all suitable for use in farming systems.
He said it was important to consider a number of factors before purchasing a drone, including what sort of weather conditions it will be able to handle, the types of areas it will be flying in, payload and what the farmer actually wants to do with it.
Drones can generally be used for inspection-type work such as checking farm equipment, stock or crops, or more detailed data collection and precision agriculture.
Mr Bignell said the data they collect can be very useful, but accuracy was crucial.
One of the best uses of drone technology is for drainage simulation.
Mr Bignell said drone maps can allow farmers to trial different drainage scenarios before they even get out any machinery.
Drones can also be used to check on livestock and move them in some situations.
But Mr Bignell warned that drones should be used to enhance an operation, not to run it.