Harnessing emerging technology to drive efficiencies

Animal WelfareOn FarmSupply Chain

The potential benefits of drones, also known as Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAs), are globally recognised across various industries, notably in agriculture.

Benefits for agriculture

RPA technology is highly versatile and offers a wide range of benefits to farmers, from biodiversity analysis and livestock monitoring to irrigation.

European countries such as France are already running trials that could enable drones to take over tasks like pesticide spraying by 2021. Similarly, Australia has identified multiple areas across the red meat supply chain where the technology could dramatically improve overall efficiency.

Agricultural drone technology

It’s to this end that RPA manufacturer Carbonix created a drone that is able to launch itself and monitor livestock and pastures for up to two hours. Unfortunately, the wide open spaces that help Australia produce such high-quality beef also pose a unique challenge in harnessing this technology.

The large distances covered when surveying properties in northern Australia mean that the viability of drones depends on alternate power sources to batteries. Fortunately, a different kind of drone (French designed Sunbird hybrid RPA), with built in solar panels is able to leverage the plentiful Australian sun for flight times of up to 7.5 hours. 

Mainstreaming for productivity

The resulting imagery and data from these RPAs have already resulted in improvements for the assessment of pasture conditions, livestock locations and even labour management. So far, it’s clear that the widespread use of RPA technology is a possibility, both logistically and economically. We hope that it will only be a matter of time before current licensing options open the use of drones to a wider audience.

Predictions show that using these digital tools would generate more than $2.2 billion in improved productivity, in the beef and sheep meat sector alone. It’s efficiencies like these that will allow Australia to keep delivering a high-quality product at the best possible price for consumers and export markets.

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