Drones Used for Agriculture and Infrastructure Inspections in Australia

The Hunter Region in Australia is home to some of the world’s finest wines and viticulture. Australia is no stranger to the benefits of drone technology, and in addition to using drones to spot sharks near surfers, farmers are now using drones for crop inspections and agricultural purposes. The Lake Macquarie City Council in the Hunter Region began using drones to spray weeds, survey land, and inspect railways.

Dr. Alice Howe, the planning and sustainability manager of the Council, is convinced that drones are one of the most convenient ways of reaching difficult areas to complete tasks that may be too dangerous or costly to manually tend. Drones are also highly accurate when it comes to agricultural applications. They are particularly great for tending to the South African weed that is rapidly encroaching the cliffs at Swansea Heads at Caves Beach.

Dr. Howe explained that flying at speeds below 13mph, at low altitudes, and using the drones downward air pressure ensures accuracy during the application of herbicides. The drones provide precise, effective, and safe treatment of the Bitou bush in the inaccessible coastal cliff areas. The precision results in minimal impact on the native plant species and offers a better way of eliminating the problem.

The company Airsight Australia is also exploring some new ways to use drones.  Their Chief operating officer, Ashley Cox, says their focus is in medical supply deliveries and inspection of local railways. According to Cox, the level of investment drone companies are receiving is great.

Drone use for railroad inspections has been proven to not only be more accurate in data collection, it’s also faster and extremely cost effective. Whenever there is a problem, a drone can be flown to the location to inspect in real time. This is similar to the way Pilsner Urquell’s uses drones for inspections. Urquell used to have to shut down his brewery for a month while performing mandatory roof/ceiling inspections, but now with drones, this can be accomplished in a fraction of the time without losing business.

Australia is among the front runners in the research, development, and commercial testing of drone systems. There are drone deliveries occurring in some suburbs, unmanned traffic management system being tested, aerial protection of plant species underway, among many other applications. All in all, it is clear that drones are quickly becoming an invaluable tool in our local environments.

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