September 08, 2014 - 3:00 PM
KAMLOOPS - A professor at Thompson Rivers University is hoping a pilot program, mostly aimed at tracking cattle, will soon take off.
“This is fabulous technology,” John Church, the Cattle Research Chair at the university says. “The concept of using drone technology for precision farming… to my knowledge, there’s not a lot of people using it particularly for livestock, so we’re one of the first.”
He notes the technology is sturdier, better stabilized and uses GPS to ‘know’ where it is. The types of cameras you can use with drones has also improved. Church hopes to use several different types in his studies, including thermal and video.
The pilot project will likely be lengthy, Church believes, because it'll mainly be about exploring what exactly a drone can be used for and how the cattle respond to it.
“Given (the) huge range of applications I think we’ll be (using the drone) a long time,” Church says, adding he has already been approached by other professors, ranchers and universities about partnering on projects using the drone.
To start, the drone, or unmanned aerial vehicle, will be used to check in on calving cattle, find bodies of animals that have died because of predation and looking for cattle under forest canopies.
Church hopes to have the drone by November at which point he will look further into what insurances or permits will be necessary. It is the first time he will be using a drone but he notes the industry estimates one in four people will have one in the next 20-30 years, so he hopes to be at the forefront of research in his field.
“It’s a fabulous tool (and) we haven’t explored the limits,” he says.
Church believes the use of these types of vehicles will help save those in the industry a lot of time and costs.
The request for proposal closes Sept. 18 and then staff will look at options and pricing. The plan is to have the drone in operation at the university in November.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014