Crop management: Advancement of drone applications in Bundaberg, Qld

According to Jamin Fleming, owner of OzTech Drones based in Bundaberg, QLD, vegetable growers in the local area are continuing to find new uses for drone applications in horticulture. 

In particular, OzTech Drones is currently busy spraying lay flat hose lines with herbicides in vegetable crops. 

Spraying the lay flat hose with herbicides keeps it visible and makes it easier to walk the line and find and repair any damage. Additionally, it minimises foot traffic and tractor tyre damage to connectors. The relatively small cost of this drone application is considered a worthwhile investment by growers. 

Figure 1: Drone spraying lay flat irrigation hose in a sweet potato crop.

Another new use for drones is applying water-based UV paint to insulate greenhouses. Previously, this was done by helicopter.

Jamin is working on this with Eden Farms based in Moore Park, Bundaberg, which grows continental cucumbers among other vegetable crops. There are a few challenges to this approach, including getting the right rate and frequency of application.   

Both OzTech Drones and Eden Farms are confident this will be an excellent fit for drone use into the future.

Figure 2: Drone applying UV paint on a greenhouse.

The Soil Wealth ICP team commends the younger generation of horticulturalists harnessing technology and embracing innovative ideas that will help to ensure an efficient and sustainable future for Australian horticulture.