By Tricia Mifsud
Weed Management has become easier and more efficient for the Southwest Goulburn Landcare Network after it received a drone to assist their work.
The DJI Agras T10 Drone, valued at $25,000, was donated to the Sunday Creek/Dry Creek Landcare Group, a sub group of the Southwest Goulburn network, by C.R Kennedy Consumer Division.
Funding from the Victorian Landcare Grants for weed management projects will allow the group to start its work at Sunday Creek.
The Sunday Creek terrain is rocky and mountainous, making it hard to reach by foot or vehicles. With the drone and its 10-litre capacity tank, the task has become much easier, with the ability to travel up to 3.5 kilometres from its starting point.
The network successfully hosted a field day where it showed participants the benefits of using drones to maintain property, prompting C.R Kennedy to make the donation.
Field Masters Systems who specialise in using technology in environment and agricultural settings attended the field day, and have since also offered to teach Landcare members how to safely operate the drone.
“We held a spray drone day to show people the capacity of a drone and [its ability] to get to hard to reach places in along rocky waterways and up the mountains,” Southwest Goulburn Landcare Network coordinator Sonia Sharkey said.
Ms Sharkey said the drone would not only assist Landcare, but will provide real-life learning opportunities for students in the area.
“We are in the middle with talking with local schools and their VCAL and VET programs. Some of the schools have programs already to teach the students how to fly drones but don’t have the opportunity for field practice,” she said.
“It’s new technology and it’s about getting younger people engaged and showing them there are careers in agriculture and you don’t have to go into Melbourne to work, there is actually work out here.”
C.R Kennedy sales manager Jeff Bethell, who conducted the official handover of the drone, said he was proud to support Landcare.
“We are very proud to be supporting Landcare and the community and we hope that the technology we have given, it’ll give the community years of technology advancements to get to the weeds that cannot be reached on vehicles,” he said.
“The important thing for us to get people to understand and appreciate drones and what they can do. Mitchell Shire will be the forefront of any other shire in the country to really use them and get the community involved.”
The drone will also assist in helping property owners with blackberries growing on their land thanks to funding from the Landcare group.
Residents in the Sunday Creek and Dry Creek area are encouraged to contact Jacqui Fulton on 0407 871 770 if they are interested in Landcare’s assistance.