Weeds officers get the drift on spray drones

Weed officers from local councils, National Parks, Crown Lands and Local Land Services were given a display on the latest in spray drone technology at a Central West Local Land Services Regional Weeds Committee meeting.

Held in Dubbo in December the regular quarterly committee meeting was extended to LLS Travelling Stock Reserve, Crown Lands and National Parks staff to enable more people to observe the demonstration by a drone spraying contractor.

Central West Local Land Services Regional Weeds Coordinator Jodie Lawler said the demonstration aimed to give weeds officers an understanding of the capabilities and limitations of the technology for use in weed control.

“A lot of the attendees are interested in the drone spraying technology particularly for weed control in difficult-to-access terrain,” Mrs Lawler said.

“The spray drone technology has the additional benefits of reducing impact on off-target species, reducing potential safety issues from accessing difficult terrain and costs of wear and tear on other vehicles trying to access hard to reach places to spray weeds.

“Unfortunately, at this point it is still quite expensive technology with the spray drones costing anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 and pilots required to undergo extensive training to be able to operate the spray drones.

“There are a number of spray drone contractors which are an alternative option for land managers to consider.”

Parkes Shire Council Biosecurity Team Leader Kane Davison attended the demonstration and said it was interesting to see what the drone technology was capable of.

“I think everyone there got a lot out of the demonstration,” Mr Davison said.

“It was interesting to see the drone’s capability.

“Going forward drones will be where the industry goes. I think the technology will keep moving forward in this area.”

Mrs Lawler said she was looking to hold more weeds workshops with drone demonstrations throughout the year, once restrictions allow.

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