South West Catchments Council showcases drone use in agriculture

WA College of Agriculture Harvey students have a go at the Drone Command

There was a buzz of a different kind at WA College of Agriculture – Harvey on Tuesday as more than 50 people attended the inaugural South West Catchments Council (SWCC) Showcase, this year focussing on Remote Piloted Aircraft- drones.

The event showcased SWCC’s use of drones in their environmental work, including wildlife tracking, water sampling, pollinator monitoring and multispectral imaging using drones.

Attendees and students heard from Julian Kruger, Director of Astron on ‘Digital tools for ecological monitoring and management’, and the engaging Ella Maesepp from Katanning Eco-House on ‘Engaging the 20-somethings in Landcare’. Representatives of Landcare groups across the South West region shared news on their on their latest projects.

Students and staff from the College also participated in the event, which demonstrated to students about the many ways that drones can be used in the agriculture industry.

Students got hands on with SWCC’s school incursion program ‘Drone Command’, an activity using mini Mambo drones weighing 63 grams each which are flown within large cages under the careful watch of SWCC staff.

To further hone their drone-flying skills, students participated in a ‘native seeding’ simulation by distributing small pellets from a drone around the edge of a representation of Toolibin Lake. The students also enjoyed a ‘migration’ simulation using the drones to learn about the unique bird life of the catchment.

Attendees viewed demonstrations of various drone uses.

SWCC Chief Executive Officer Steve Ewings said the unique incursion was designed so students could apply their understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in new and exciting ways.

“Drones are being used for many positive reasons and are playing an increasingly important role in agriculture and Natural Resource Management (NRM),” Mr Ewings said.

“We want to open the student’s eyes to the many applications of drone technology and help them see potential career pathways. The sky really is the limit for them.”

SWCC has Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) certification to use its fleet of drones for multispectral, vegetation monitoring, mapping and aerial photography services.

The environmental services provider is planning other school incursions within the South West Region. If your school is interested, contact [email protected] for more information.

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