Australian Government Plants Seed of Drone Agriculture

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Australia’s top science agency is teaming up with the nation’s leading agribusiness corporation to deploy drones and long-range sensing tech to boost crop yields Down Under.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) signed a joint partnership agreement with Ruralco, a nationwide agribusiness outlet with more than 500 outlets offering services from data analysis to farm real estate.

The partnership will include several projects to optimize data-driven research solutions for farmers and drones will play a major role in the initiative, especially in the realm of livestock detection.

“Drone technology is facilitating data-driven decision making in agriculture,” Ruralco CEO Travis Dillon said in a government press release. “Farmers can better analyze issues which affect productivity and sustainability such as: effective nutrient delivery; plant growth; and combat bio-security issues such as invasive species and pest infestation.”

Ruralco will leverage its business relationship with North Carolina-based drone company PrecisionHawk to deploy drones to provide several farmer-friendly solutions in both sensor technology and data analytics.

PrecisionHawk made headlines last year by receiving the first Part 107 waiver for BVLOS flight (beyond visual line of sight).

“This partnership is an example of us teaming up with Australian industry to help them capitalize on the next computing cycle, at the intersection of data and domains like agriculture,” said Adrian Turner, CEO of CSIRO’s data innovation group Data61.

The agriculture drone business is expected to blossom worldwide over the next four years, according to Zion Research.

Last year, the marketing firm released “Agriculture Drone Market: Global Industry Perspective, Comprehensive Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Segment, Trends and Forecast, 2015 – 2021,” a 100-page analysis .

Covering areas such as fixed and rotary drones as well as data management, imaging software and data analysis, the report pegs the precision agriculture drone market at $2.9 billion by 2021 – up 28 percent from a 2015 valuation of $673 million

Because drones offer both aerial-view capability and can carry a variety of sensor arrays – LiDAR, infrared, HD cameras – farmers are lining up to invest in both drones and analytic software that can crunch the tons of data available from a single flight mission.

Access to precision data means farmers can efficiently identify threats such as insect infestation, drought damage, plant disease and other crop-health issues.



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