After a week spent on computers while the weather was bad; last Thursday when it cleared up we had the chance to go on a little adventure up on the moors, to test a few things we’d been working on, including our DJI Agras MG-1 spraying drone.
Now, for the purposes of these tests we were using water, coloured with a biodegradable green dye, as it is not yet legal to use drones for chemical spraying in the UK.
(We’re working on that!)
The weather was glorious; a cool, steady breeze and blazing sunshine.
I accompanied DroneAG’s founder and drone expert Jack, and the company’s farmer Hugh on the trip up into the hills.
Once we’d kitted up, the three of us set off up the hill in the buggy, which has only two seats. Of course, we ended up taking turns sitting in the trailer, which was interesting.
When we made it to the moor at the top, we found the fresh, green bracken shoots, starting to poke through. In the interest of bracken spraying, on a rocky, undulating moor such as this, it is usually done on foot, with a spraying pack full of liquid. This can be extremely time consuming, and it comes with a few risks as well.
Spraying drones have already been a revolution in China, and have been shown to cut workload down to the point where a job that previously took many hours now only takes a few minutes.
All we need in the UK is approval by the CRD and this will be a valuable time and labour saver for us as well.
Once we’d gotten to our destination, we built flight plans to map the areas with one of the DJI Mavic Pros. We used DroneDeploy and it’s Live Map feature, so that we’d have the map processed quickly and be able to see where areas of bracken were starting to proliferate right then and there.
After that, we walked with the controller to draw a perimeter within which to fly the Agras, which is a highly intuitive and impressive system.
We spent a few hours at two separate sites, fiddling with various parameters and flying the various drones we’d brought with us. All in all we learned some valuable information about the systems we were testing, when we ran into issues we figured out solutions.
As a side note; there are ancient iron age forts up on the moors we test on and we even got to map one! It’s pretty awe inspiring, at least for me, to know that thousands of years ago people lived up here. There are definitely worse things one could be doing, than messing with cool gadgets, on top of a hill, next to an ancient settlement, in the baking sunshine, on a warm summer’s day…
DroneAG’s Jack Wrangham had this to say “Drone-based spraying is going to play a very important role in agriculture application technology going forward, we’re doing everything we can to be at the forefront. Bracken control soon, targeting weeds in Cereals next!”
This in-depth testing phase is also very important because it gives us a good knowledge base to build training programs around.
Look forward to some positive developments in the near future!
We’ll be keeping you updated on our social media pages and right here on our website.