Drones helping farmers survey stock could extend to pasture growth

Brittany Pickett - NZfarmer.co.nz

Type: Article
Knowledge level: Introductory

Farm Table says:

This article draws on the experience of a sheep farmer from NZ using drones. He states he has reduced motorbike use by 20% since adopting the technology, and hopes to get this to a 50% reduction.

Neil Gardyne, a sheep farmer on 466ha in New Zealand, has been using drones to fly over their flock for over three years. They began using their drones to monitor stock in hard to access/difficult terrain and checking for cast sheep during lambing.

This worked well for the family and was very efficient as only 7/1,200 needed assistance during lambing and it saved checking stock in their paddock regularly. Neil states that “There’s really been an advantage to having eyes in the sky, it’s a bit of peace of mind knowing that everything is fine.”

In regards to cost-benefit, Neil explains:

  • It cost $4 a kilometre to use a four-wheel motorbike and they could travel up to 11,000km a year, so checking the paddocks less in person was saving them on fuel and maintenance costs
  • They had reduced their motorbike use by 20 per cent since adopting drone technology.
  • As well as monitoring stock, the drone could be used to map drains, count stock, monitor weeds, and monitor trough levels.

Neil explained that they hoped to eventually be able to measure their paddocks’ dry matter levels from the air.

2016 - New Zealand - Brittany Pickett - NZfarmer.co.nz
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