Known as InFarm, the drone-tractor solution analyses drone images and identifies fallow weeds, with information then plugged into spray rigs for a targeted herbicide prescription that provides a fallow weed management solution.
Using a USB, the farmer uploads a file into their tractor, essentially turning their standard variable rate sprayer into a spot sprayer.
InFarm director Jerome Leray said InFarm has tested the prototype technology mainly around Goondiwindi in south-west Queensland, but wheat farmers in Western Australia were also interested.
He said there was also interest to fly over and process data for more than 100,000 hectares of fallow land.
“Our aim is to develop partnerships with agronomists, local machinery dealers and established agricultural service businesses. They will fly our drones and obtain the data, thereby increasing the services they offer clients, and then bring the drone data back to town for processing, which eliminates any on-farm internet connectivity issues,” Mr Leray said.
“Fallow weeds are a problem for farmers globally, so our software-based solution, which has been proven on big, rugged farms in south-west Queensland, has export potential,” he said.
Mr Leray said by targeting spraying zones, InFarm can save wheat, cotton and other broadacre crop farmers up to 80 per cent on herbicide bills.
Queensland Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch said the weed targeting system was good for farming and the environment, and required little outlay from farmers because it uses existing spraying machinery.
“InFarm’s drone-to-tractor weeding system significantly reduces the use of herbicides on fallow paddocks, which is good for the land and for human health, and saves money. It will be the first of its kind once commercialised,” Minister Enoch said.
“InFarm can currently fly and process 60 hectares of fallow land a day, but they need to increase this to 500 hectares a day to go commercial and meet farmers’ weed spraying requirements,” she said.