Rangelands NRM Blog, News & Resources

Drone technology trialled in ESRM planning

Drone technology has been trialled last month to get a clear view of what is happening on the ground at a landscape-scale.

Rangelands NRM’s Northern Program Manager Grey Mackay together with Richard Marver of Contour Environmental & Agricultural Consulting, were in the Pilbara to work on an Environmentally Sustainable Rangeland Management (ESRM) Plan at Noreena Downs pastoral station.

The pair used a drone to get an aerial perspective when they came across issues on the ground.

“When you see an erosion gully, or something on the ground, it is usually a symptom of a larger issue or at least an issue further up the catchment – perhaps out of site,” Grey said.

“This is why we like to have an aerial perspective on a property as a part of the ESRM planning.”

In the past, this it has been costly to fly up to gain this view in a helicopter or small plane, so they often rely on Google Earth, which is not ideal.

“But with a drone, we very quickly shoot up to 100+ metres above the ground,” Grey said.

“We can fly further up the catchment and not only see things live, but HD video and photos can later be downloaded and viewed back in the office.”

Grey said the land manager loved the drone as well and kept getting them to stop and send the drone up to get a view of what was happening at a landscape scale.

This may have been small erosion gullies, or noticing a change of vegetation in an area may be a sign of a drying soil, Grey said.

“Having the local manager’s knowledge of historical issues was key to understanding what positive changes can potentially be brought back with good management practices,” Grey said.

Image: Grey used the Mavic Pro which cost approximately $2000. The convenience of this is it folds up into a very compact case which can be taken with you anywhere.