The Victorian Farmers Federation Conference in Horsham VIC, Feb 22, 2014 held a plenary session with this title “Drones – Tools or Toys?”. Matthew Burns, Group Integrated Solutions Manager from Emmetts, spoke about the benefits of using drones for aerial field mapping. The data can be used within GPS systems for variable rate application of inputs.
Integral to the application of this technology is the idea that all machines and software programs are able to work together, to maximise efficient decision making. The information provided by technology such as drones should result in profitability for the farmer.
As highlighted by Jamie Cummins within the plenary session, a primary producer from Yarrawonga “everything you do, has to save your time and make you money.”
The cost benefit of using mapping as presented by Brendan Torpy of Precision Agriculture included an example of using variable rate application of lime, which provided a ROI of 4:1 when cost of mapping was applied against the cost savings of variable lime application. A second figure he showed was a saving of 25% on phosphorus because of management decisions made based on field mapping data.
Drones may be fun, but if they also provide a solid foundation of information to make better management decisions the answer is clear.