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17 December, 2020

What to consider when buying a drone

Southern Queensland farmer Meg Kummerow is at the forefront of drone use in agriculture and prides herself on being able to connect farmers with the right drone, for the right farm.

By Candyce Grew RURAL LEADER EDITOR

Meg Kummerow

WITH the future of farming constantly changing – drones are just one of many technological advancements transforming the agricultural sector.

Southern Queensland farmer Meg Kummerow is at the forefront of drone use in agriculture and prides herself on being able to connect farmers with the right drone, for the right farm.

She started her business, Fly the Farm, an agricultural drone supplier, following the Australian Summer Grains Conference in 2016.

“We tried to get drone resellers to come along to the conference and none of them were really interested in dealing with agriculture,” she said.

Having grown up on a beef cattle property in the Central Burnett, Mrs Kummerow attended Dalby Agricultural College and has worked in the feedlotting, pastoral, cotton, and grains industries.

She is also on the Aerial Agriculture sub-committee of the Australian Certified UAV Operators, one of the peak industry bodies for the Australian drone industry.

“I’m able to call on that knowledge and understand what people’s needs are and tailor solutions to them,” she said.

Mrs Kummerow said the potential for drones in agriculture was starting to be realised with Farm Safety Week shining the spotlight on the use of drones for mustering.

“It’s really good that farmers are seeing the safety benefits. Spray drones have been a bit of a hot topic lately as well, with larger carrying capacities becoming more common.”

Mrs Kummerow explained there were several things to consider when deciding to bring a drone into your farming business.

“It depends on several things like weight and type as well as on how pilots intend on using them.”

Using the DJI Agras T16 as an example:

The requirements for piloting the drone. To fly a drone such as the DJI Agras T16, which has a Minimum Take-off Weight (MTOW) of 42kg, you will need the following:

  • An Aviation Reference Number (ARN);
  • A Remote Pilot’s Licence (RePL) for multicopter, completing both the 0-7 and 7-25kg weight categories. For aircraft in the ‘medium’ weight classification such as the T16, you will also need to be certified by CASA for that particular craft.
  • It is recommended to obtain an Aeronautical Radio Operator Certificate (AROC) in case you ever need to fly in controlled airspace or beyond visual line of sight.
  • English Language Proficiency Exam (ELP).
  • Remote Operators Certificate (ReOC) issued initially for one year, after which your certificate can be renewed for three years.
  • To have your ReOC application processed, you will need to be assessed either by CASA or a CASA delegate. Get ready for a large amount of forms and documents!

The application of chemical products by drone. Each state and Territory have their own separate and often very different requirements when it comes to drone application of chemicals.

Whether or not the chemical/s you wish to apply, can actually be applied via drone. At this point in time, those wishing to apply chemicals via drone must follow the label as per aerial application requirements on the label.

Insurance.  Make sure both you, your craft and your customers are covered in case of anything going wrong.

Your previous experience with applying chemicals. Do you know what off-target spray drift is? Understand the pitfalls of chemical applications, lots can go wrong, and the consequences are huge.

A trusted supplier. Ensure that you are getting the full picture by dealing with someone who understands the industry and your needs.

For more information about Fly the Farm visit www.flythefarm.com.au.

To ensure you are always getting the most up to date information on licencing visit www.casa.gov.au/drones


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