Farms try sky spy with drones becoming a hit in agriculture

Drone Education offered by Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture Vegetable Centre

[Editor’s Note: Mark Boersma, Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture Vegetable Centre leader, shared that farmers were becoming increasingly interested in drones due to their ability to help with making informed decisions.]

This post originally appeared on http://www.themercury.com.au/news/tasmania/farms-try-sky-spy-with-drones-becoming-a-hit-in-agriculture/news-story/271ae582e0da6decb831097da3ca28fb.

DRONES could soon be as much a part of Tassie farm life as a good set of gumboots and a working dog.

As the rules for flying drones change, Tasmanian agriculture leaders have honed their skills and been given the latest update at a workshop held at the Forthside vegetable research site in the state’s North-West.

Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture Vegetable Centre leader Mark Boersma said there was an increasing interest in the use of drones in agriculture because of their ability to help farmers make informed decisions.

Farmer Will Bignell and Kyle Gardner (left) of Aerial Vision Australia using a drone for weed mapping. Picture: KIM EISZELE.

“The use of drone technology for tasks such as crop surveillance is providing farmers with rapid access to information that can potentially assist them to boost production and efficiency, lower input costs, and ensure sustainability,” Dr Boersma said.

He said TIA was investigating the use of precision agriculture technologies, such as drones, and how they enable better crop management and yield prediction.

TIA is working with the Tasmanian Agricultural Productivity Group to deliver the Precision Agriculture Project.

“The project uses precision technologies such as drones to collect data that can help inform producers about when and how to irrigate or fertilise crops,” Dr Boersma said.

With drones becoming a greater but mostly unseen part of life in Tasmania, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) now allows commercial operators to fly drones weighing less than 2kg with reduced regulatory ­requirements.

The rules governing the operation of drones of all sizes are unchanged, meaning they may not be flown higher than 400 feet or within 5.5km of major airports.

Flying a drone weighing more than 2kg for commercial use requires a remote pilot licence from CASA.

The workshop at Forthside hosted by TIA aimed to increase expertise within the local agriculture industry about the operation of drones.

A recent survey in Tasmania revealed there are more than 50 full-time workers in the state’s drone industry.

A free community Dronefest will be held by the Rotary clubs of Bellerive and Howrah at Lauderdale Primary School on October 15 for both professional and amateur enthusiasts.

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