In recent years, the use of drones has become increasingly popular in various industries, including agriculture. One of the top uses we get asked about at Fly the Farm is for mustering. Mustering has traditionally been done by horse or motorbike, but the use of drones is changing the game.
Drones offer several advantages when it comes to mustering. Firstly, they can cover a large area in a short amount of time, making the process of mustering more efficient. Drones can fly over areas that may be difficult to access on foot or by vehicle, such as steep terrain or dense vegetation, possibly saving time and labour costs.
Secondly, drones are very effective when livestock are being mustered. Drones are just another form of pressure that can be moved to move sheep or cattle and are surprisingly relatively quiet and unobtrusive, causing minimal stress to livestock.
Another advantage of using drones for mustering is that they can help farmers keep track of their livestock more easily. As drones are equipped with cameras that can capture images and video footage, graziers can monitor their livestock, particularly when calving or lambing. Again, potentially reducing stress by not needing to drive around to check, disturbing them.
Drones can also be used to monitor paddock and feed conditions. Graziers can use drones to inspect quickly and make more informed decisions about how best to manage their property.
However, there are some challenges associated with using drones for mustering. The main consideration are the regulatory issues around the use of drones. In Australia, the use of drones is regulated by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). Anyone operating a drone must understand and comply with the regulations. There are specific regulations for people flying over their own land, however registration & accreditations may still be required.
A company to keep an eye on is SkyKelpie. Developed by Luke Chaplain who hails from Cloncurry, SkyKelpie is a world leader in drone mustering solutions and is working to support graziers unlock the potential that drones can offer.
In conclusion, the use of drones for mustering is an exciting development in Australian agriculture. Drones offer several advantages over traditional mustering methods, including increased efficiency, reduced stress on livestock, and improved land management. While there are regulatory and cost challenges to consider, the benefits of using drones for mustering are significant, and it is likely that we will see more Australian properties adopting this technology in the future.