Farming robotics reaches new heights and breaks ground
DRONES and ground-based robotics will be the way of the future on farms.
Mechatronic engineering research fellow Dr Cheryl McCarthy explained that the two devices were currently independent but would one day be connected.
"The concept is that the UAV (drone) will go into the sky and perform its surveillance operation," she said.
"It will identify where there are areas of interest - low growth, weeds, diseases.
"It will transmit that information to the ground-based robot, which will then go out and apply chemicals (with a spray boom and a tank)."
Dr McCarthy said work had been done on crop sensing since the mid-1990s and just recently on automation for agricultural vehicles.
She hoped the technology would be available to farmers in the next five to 10 years.
"There is increased productivity, it's more repeatable, they don't get tired, they are really adaptable and they can be programmed to do lots of different tasks," she said.
"So they can be going through looking for weeds and also be looking for pests and disease or water-logged areas. When the farmer goes out, if they drive out and look from the edge of the paddock they are only seeing the edge, whereas this kind of device can cover more area and do more in-depth scouting.
"There is so much more information in the paddock that they just can't see from the ground or driving past."
A demonstration of the drone was part of the future farm day at the University of Southern Queensland.
The day, held in conjunction with the National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture, showcased research projects such as unmanned aerial vehicles, biosecurity, precision agriculture, spot spraying and climate science.
Read more about the day inside this week's Rural Weekly, free inside subscriber issues of The Chronicle every week.
Anyone wishing to sign up six days a week to receive their copy weekly can phone the circulation department on 1300 361 604.
Inside this week
- Stahmann Farms talks Asian exports
- New technology to target weeds in crop
- Limousin youth ambassador crowned
- Ripper chickpea production at Tabulam
- Making hay as a family in the Lockyer Valley
- Special coverage: Ag in the Asian Century conference
- Limousin herdsperson competition
- Queensland Limousin Youth Camp