2 Nov 2015

Drone use on farms predicted to rise

10:33 am on 2 November 2015

Hawke's Bay photographer and drone operator Tim Whittaker says drones are becoming increasingly useful for farming operations.

Members of the Yamaha team get the RMAX drone ready for takeoff.

A Yamaha RMAX drone, powered by a 260cc engine and weighing in at close to 100kg, was the first to gain certification to spray chemicals. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Mr Whittaker said the unmanned aerial vehicles were being used for spraying areas otherwise difficult to get to, trough monitoring and even automatic stock counting.

He predicted drones would become a more familiar sight in rural industry in the next few years as the reliability, technology and battery technology advanced and price reduced.

"The farmer might have his little UAV which will count his stock, and then he might have a maize paddock where he wants to see what areas are doing well in a drought so he'll mount up an infrared camera and get it to do a run along a maize paddock, and then he'll have a view of crop vigour.

"In the last couple of months developers have developed extra software outside of the drone manufacturers that allows us to map land.

"More specifically, I've used it over a vineyard in Hawke's Bay wanting to do some redevelopment and they wanted an up to date high resolution map of their buildings and their surrounding vineyard where they can plan ahead and map out landscaping, boundaries and so forth."