A grain farmer near Moree in north-west NSW is looking into the potential for the use of drones and unmanned vehicles in precision agriculture.
Ben Boughton won a Nuffield Scholarship recently and will take an international research trip next year to investigate how other countries are using them.
Mr Boughton believes unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, being used in the Australian grains industry could soon become a reality.
“The technology’s come down to a price point where farmers and people involved in the ag industry can see value in these machines,” he said.
“It could be something as simple as being able to get a cheap little plane, or what we call a UAV, up in the sky to have a look around.
“But then it can go as far as advanced uses where we can map the fields and if we also get an advanced sensor on our UAVs we can do some 3D modelling of our fields. From there the potential is endless.”
So what data can they gather that traditional satellite photography can’t?
Mr Boughton says one example of the benefits is the fact they can be run close to the ground.
“At the moment, one source we collect crop data or biomass data from is satellite imagery,” he said.
“While satellite imagery’s very good, we do face issues with cloud cover and accessibility of the imagery. We also face problems with the data resolution, how detailed the data is.