MID WEST farmers and resource managers are set to reap the benefits of the latest technology that pairs computer programming with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Geraldton resident Warren Abrams founded the company New Era Ag-Tech, 18 months ago with the idea of using aerial imagery to map agricultural areas.
Primarily he wanted to look at crop nutrition, soils, weeds, diseases and what kind of imagery would be helpful for farmers.
After catching up with friend Richard Riddle, who was writing imaging programs for the resource industry in South Africa, Mr Abrams realised that one of his programs could be the answer.
Mr Riddle of Data Into Profit, had a unique program called ‘Crop Manager’, that was able to take data from different formats and bring them into one model.
To begin the pair looked at using satellite imagery but this was limiting, and that’s when UAVs came up.
New Era Ag-Tech uses hexa and octo split-blade aerial platforms that have the computer processing power of multi-rotor helicopters and a tested range of 14km.
To comply with Civil Aviation Safety Authority certification, UAV’s must be flown under 400 feet to stay away from civil aviation but the machines have the capability of reaching extreme heights.
The cameras used must be small and lightweight.
“We are using a ‘GoPro’ camera and we have a multi-spectra camera which doesn’t give photographic images but more like colour patterns,” Mr Abrams says.