Bird-scaring drone saving seed crops in the Ord Valley

Drone for scaring birds

[Editor’s Note: Pacific Seeds Farm Manager, Peter Bagley, shared that the drone is saving the company roughly $2,000 a day.]

This post originally appeared on http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-19/bird-scaring-drone-saving-ord-valley-seed-crops/7852742.

A farm in the Kimberley’s Ord Irrigation Scheme is having a lot of success using a drone to protect its seed crops from birds.

At this time of year, Ord farmers are constantly battling the thousands of magpie geese, corellas and black cockatoos, which descend on the region looking for an easy feed. 

Pacific Seeds farm manager Peter Bagley said the bird-scaring drone was saving the company thousands of dollars.

“For us it’s working brilliantly and I think you recover the costs [of the drone] in the first couple of weeks of using it,” he said.

“Normally without a drone, we’d have two people on the ground [chasing birds] on quadbikes and also a helicopter in the air, plus numerous gas-guns and devices to keep the birds away.

“So it saves us probably $2,000 a day.”

Magpie geese

“And it saves us a lot of lost crop from the birds.

“Our worst paddock this year was half a tonne a hectare lost to birds, so [using the drone to scare birds away] is a significant saving.”

The drone being used by Pacific Seeds is fitted with a bird-scaring audio device which transmits a series of different high-pitched distress calls and bird of prey calls.

Mr Bagley said an hour of flying the drone each morning and afternoon kept the farm relatively free of birds.

He said the drone could be flown manually, but could also have a set flight-mission installed, meaning the drone would cover the farm automatically.

“They’re not difficult to fly, the technology is really good and I’m sure any farmer who can operate a GPS can operate a drone,” Mr Bagley said.

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