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Drone-flying farmers are ready for take-off

New software developed by University of Southern Queensland to help growers thrive

Mapping fields and analysing crop data will now be a breeze for farmers, thanks to a new easy-to-use drone processing platform.

Developed by academics at the University of Southern Queensland, in partnership with Land Solution Australia, the recently launched platform UAS ortho-Cloud, is set to transform how farmers manage their fields.

Finding innovative solutions to challenges faced by our communities has long been a focus for the University – and co-developer Dr Zahra Gharineiat said the benefit of the low-cost service for the agriculture industry was immense.

“Farmers are well aware of the advantages and benefits of drone mapping, but many lack the knowledge and technical skills to process drone-captured images and analyse the data,” she said.

Drone mapping allows farmers to easily survey their crops, providing timely and accurate data about yield.

In turn, that data can predict yield, respond better to crop stress, manage labour costs, and document crop losses for insurance purposes.

Dr Gharineiat, a Senior Lecturer in Surveying and Positioning at the University of Southern Queensland, said the platform puts the power back into the hands of farmers, saving them time, money and resources.

“Most drone mapping services currently in the market are expensive, complex and difficult to use if you don’t have the proper training or experience,” she said.

“Our platform was developed specifically for users with little or no knowledge about processing aerial drone imagery.

“A farmer simply just has to upload their aerial images into the cloud-based service, and it will automatically create precise maps of their crops.”

Land Solution Australia managing director Lee Hellen said the collaboration was an example of how universities and industry working together can spark ideas and innovation that respond to the community’s needs.

“We’ve seen in the marketplace how consistent, reliable data sources and predictive analysis can enhance and improve processes within different sectors,” he said.

“An essential element of what Land Solution Australia does is identifying problems that need to be solved in the community. This collaboration was helpful for the benefits the University could bring to our company and our goal.

“It meant they could give us a far greater depth of technical knowledge and access to their testing facilities.”

The project was supported by an Australian Government Innovations Connections grant from the Entrepreneurs’ Programme.

Find out more information about UAS ortho-Cloud and studying surveying at the University of Southern Queensland.

People holding drones.
University of Southern Queensland’s Dr Zahra Gharineiat and Land Solution Australia’s Lee Hellen.