XAG drones will be helping Aussie farmers to reduce chemical and water usage after a tough three farming seasons hit by bushfires, droughts, and COVID. The drones will be used to map hard to reach locations and drop seeds to restore empty fields.
Jamin Fleming, a drone entrepreneur based in Bundaberg, south-east Queensland has been working with many farms since June to spray for pests, weeds, and diseases and is amongst the younger generation beginning to work on farms again.
“Australia’s agricultural workforce is getting a lot younger now, because I think a lot of young people don’t want to be in an office or doing the same thing every day. Agriculture has a great range and the technology is getting better every day.”
As Fleming grew up in a farming household, he has continued to work within the farming world and has recently begun using drones to help farmers through the tough few years they have been faced with. Fleming has been working with macadamia farmers to spray fungicides and fertilizers on the macadamia trees.
Fleming has also shared the struggle he is facing with using drones to help farmers.
“The biggest challenge I find is people find it hard to believe that our drones can do what we say they will do. Hence why I often drive and take time out of my day to visit potential clients to show them what we can do, and then they are always blown away with what we are able to achieve.”
The drones allow for a decrease in chemical use of around 30% and can conserve up to 90% of the water. On top of that the drones also reduce the carbon emissions created when compared to the heavy diesel machinery that is currently used to spray crops.
How it works
Fleming first sends out a drone to map the area using XAG’s XMission surveying drone to see any issues with the macadamia trees. When a survey drone finds unhealthy trees, the spraying drone is sent in. The spraying drone is programmed to follow a certain course and can do continuous spraying or hover sprays for the smaller trees. The drone has been found to provide the trees with better coverage, being able to reach the canopy easier than ground solutions.
The drones are also used to kill weeds that grow around the watering systems which used to be done by a tractor that would damage the crops in the process. Now, a mapping drone is sent up to see where the weeds are and then the spraying drone goes out and kills the weeds without causing damage to the crops.
“We also help them with controlling weeds around water hydrants in the middle of fields. In one field, there could be 50 hydrants which a tractor used to drive through damaging the crop to get to these hydrants. Now using the XMission drone we can survey the entire field, find the hydrants, and send the spray drone out to only target the hydrant.”