Drones on farm: Are they eyes in the sky . . . or just pie?


It seems like utopia – over breakfast a farmer checks the phone. Already they’ve got a good picture of the pasture cover across the farm, a close-up image of the blown pipe in paddock 26 and a video of what’s happening in the calving herd. All thanks to roving drones that were out at dawn.

You would have heard a lot about drones (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems), in the last five years. Amazon is going to deliver books with them, Dominos will send its pizzas and a 7-Eleven in the United States has already delivered donuts.

So what can New Zealand dairy farmers expect from drones? Do they have a role on farm or are they just a fun toy?

Donuts and pizzas delivered to your farm may be a little unrealistic, but some farmers are already using drones to capture up-to-date photos of their farm, assess differences across paddocks that can be further investigated on foot or to just get a bird’s-eye-view of their stock or crop status. So should you go out and buy one?

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