The innovative use of drones to precisely assess soil erosion will save time and money for WA growers.
The labour-efficiency tool will be on show at the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s Newdegate Machinery Field Days display.
Department Grains and Livestock manager Alison Lacey said soil erosion was a common problem in agricultural industries and department officers were called on to calculate significant soil movement following major weather events.
“Newdegate and Ravensthorpe were seriously affected by flood damage in early 2017 and Bunbury-based research officer Nick Wright travelled to the region to assist in calculating the economic impact and landscape rehabilitation,” she said.
“Mr Wright realised traditional surveying methods and photography from ground level would not result in accurate data, so he used his extensive knowledge of technologies to create a remedy.
“Drones were employed to take numerous photos in a uniform pattern over the eroded landscape, the images were stitched together into a 3D model, and the model was subtracted from an estimated pre-erosion surface to calculate the amount of soil lost.
“This kind of innovation is vital – the use of available technologies was labour-efficient, accurate and applicable to other agriculture industries.”
Landholders can watch a short film of the 3D model at the department’s display and discuss its potential application with Mr Wright.
Mapping and land planning officers will also be on-hand to update visitors’ property contact details and those who do will go into a draw for a free map.
Ms Lacey said the display would also include information on livestock biosecurity and improving the efficiency and profitability of grain growers and livestock producers.
“The livestock biosecurity focus will be on traceability, with officers available to help producers with all aspects of traceability, including brands and National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) database transfers,” she said.
“Effective livestock traceability is critical to maintaining Western Australia’s high biosecurity status and access to markets.
“Producers can pick up a handy ‘common PICs card’ for sheep and cattle, which lists the property identification codes of saleyards and abattoirs.
“Footrot Control Program staff will also provide details about biosecurity practices that help prevent footrot occurring in their flocks and managing footrot, if it occurs.”
Biosecurity project manager Martin Atwell will have skeleton weed plants on display to help growers detect rosettes in the field during winter from similar plants.
The department display is located at Site 17, Machinery Section, First Avenue.
Media contact: Jodie Thomson/Dionne Tindale, media liaison +61 (0)8 9368 3937