Ag students to benefit from new drone project

10 March 2022

Agriculture students at a Bundaberg region high school are set to benefit from a new agricultural drone project to be delivered by CQUniversity Australia' with funding from a Queensland Government Engaging Science Grant valued at $14 551.

The project which will be led by senior education lecturer' Dr Michelle Vanderburg will employ drone technology to inspire adolescents to develop STEM skills specific to the agriculture sector.

As part of the project' CQUniversity will partner with Isis District State High School to develop and implement the project that will encompass a series of activities where participants will learn how drones can be used in all aspects of farm management' including managing fence lines' inspecting crops and animal paddocks' and utilising drone survey data to plan greater farm productivity.

Dr Vanderburg explained that the goal will be to inspire adolescents to develop agricultural technology knowledge and skills to support potential future careers in agriculture.

"Isis District SHS is located in a region that heavily reliant upon the agricultural industry for employment.

"Increasingly' the agriculture sector is employing new technologies to improve productivity and efficiencies' so it is essential that we are graduating students that have a knowledge and understanding of technology and how it can be used to benefit primary producers.

"The participating students will engage with topics through theory around rules and regulations pertaining to the use of drones in the agricultural industry and the future of their use'" said Dr Vanderburg.

"Specifically' they will learn about piloting drones' coding and interpreting culminating in a broad understanding of the integration of technology into the sector and how this is going to alter the profession in general.

"Isis District High School Agriculture Teacher' Hannah Wiemers' said that it was important for students to learn these skills as farming is becoming increasingly reliant on technological advancements.

"The students are excited about combining tech with ag as they are seeing technology used more and more within the region and on their own family farms.

"They can see how the use of technology combined with traditional farming practice is making a difference to on-farm productivity' so they are curious to learn more about this themselves and gain the necessary skills to interact with on-farm technologies.

"Along with this' learning about technology also benefits students who may want to follow a different career in agriculture outside of production' for example within engineering' agribusiness or supply chain management'" said Ms Wiemers.

Jamin Fleming' Director of Oztech drones will also be involved in the project and will provide students with a realistic industry look at how drones are changing the game when it comes to agriculture.

Mr Fleming explained that the benefits of drones in agriculture are becoming more apparent to farmers.

"Drone technology is advancing rapidly' and its many agricultural applications include spraying' mapping and planting.

"Drones can also be fitted with a range of sensors and camera technology enabling farmers to monitor the health and productivity of crops and livestock."

Mr Fleming also said he is looking forward to being part of this project and exposing tomorrow's drone pilots to some exciting career opportunities available in agriculture.