17 Feb 2014

Drones focus of farm conference

2:20 pm on 17 February 2014

Agricultural drones and their future in farming is the focus of a three-day conference beginning on Tuesday at Massey University in Palmerston North.

More than 250 people including farmers, scientists, and policy makers will attend the 27th Annual Fertiliser and Lime Research Centre Workshop.

Massey University's Professor of Precision Agriculture, Ian Yule, says aerial drones will play a big role in meeting the challenge to balance environmental sustainability with higher food production.

The hexacopter drone targets farms.

The hexacopter drone targets farms. Photo: SUPPLIED

Professor Yule says drones can reach more inaccessible areas of farms. He says one project being worked on with Ravensdown fertiliser co-operative is using drones to sense soil nutrient needs, especially on hill country farms, to judge how much fertiliser should be applied without taking soil samples.

International speakers at the conference include Professor Steve Raine of the University of Southern Queensland, who will talk about advances in intelligent and autonomous irrigation and fertiliser efficiency.