Fly! Drones are here to stay

Advancing technology and trials around the globe (here too) will help cane growers learn what`s right for them

Fly! Drones are here to stay

Fly! Drones are here to stay

Fly! Drones are here to stay

We can all stop dreaming about the future and agriculture, because it`s here.
Drones are already being used around the globe in agriculture, including in Australia and in fact on some of our local cane farms.
This technology is advancing and being embraced faster than you and I can imagine.
And that is why Joyance Tech partner from Industrial Drones Australia, and other industry stakeholders, to talk about the current technology and availability of drones, their capacity and application, but also how this fits with the sugar industry and individual farms.
Just like tractors and other machinery and equipment, what drone and/or camera or software will depend on each farmer, but also each farm.
The single most important thing in its yet fledgling investigations into this new technology, is that knowledge is critical.
Growers will not only have to understand the options that currently exist and costs, but he or she will need to understand and know how this will benefit his farming business ensuring viability, affordability, efficiency and sustainability. From all accounts, links, reports and presentations on drones in agriculture, the benefits are many among them a simplified digital recording tool -imperative for best practice management for current and any future regulations.

Our partner excelled themselves at this presentation and certainly impressed attendees with the four drones on display - 2 large spray drones, a tether drone and a smaller drone fitted with NDVI (Normalised Difference Vegetation Index) imagery technology for pinpointing crop condition. NDVI makes the invisible visible. It can see things that are hidden to the human eye and can identify parts of the crop that are worthy of closer on-ground inspection calculating near infra-red and red light to determine the health of plants on the ground.

With technology increasingly important when it comes to making smart decisions about crop management, and precision agriculture techniques, this technology is a game-changer for farmers.
The advantages, while not yet well-documented specifically for sugarcane, includes
- Reduced chemical use
- Zero impact on root structure
- Can spray product on wet blocks
- Easy micro-management of crop
- Spot spray accurately
- Electrostatic product application
- Zero harm for farmer as he is removed from chemical spray area
- Reduced carbon footprint
- Can be solar powered

With one of the models on display in this presentation (the JT15L-608), and possibly the most appropriate for use on our regional cane farms, there is the capacity for spraying one hectare in around five minutes.
There are a lot of drones out there for all kinds of applications as well as agriculture. There are some key things to consider when purchasing something bigger or better than a toy for zipping around and taking photos.
If you`re going to get serious, you may wish to consider the following:
Insurance; battery life charge and costs; replacements parts; repairs; upgrades; licence requirements and costs; life expectancy (the drones, not yours!)
Some other things you may want to consider for your initial foray into droning on farm, is the option to share.
This may be with a sibling, neighbour, son or daughter.
As with all technology when put to practical use and maximum efficiency, you will soon know exactly what you need or want on your farm to maximise the advantages these amazing new tools will bring to farming.

For now, you may wish to start by visiting Industrial Drones Australia at the Ag Trade Expo on May 18/19.
Our partner also offers drone flight training for beginners and advanced users (farmers).

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