HOW TO USE THIS ONLINE MAGAZINE
by clicking the arrows at the side of the page.
by clicking anywhere on the page. A slider will appear, allowing you to adjust your zoom level.
and move the page around when zoomed in by dragging the page.
and return to the original size by clicking on the page again.
by entering text in the search field and click on "In This Issue" or "All Issues" to search the current issue or the archive of back issues
a PDF of this magazine.
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
a page via email, Facebook, Twitter and more.
TO VIEW PREVIOUS EDITIONS
, click the
button at the bottom of the screen.
Beyond the Bale : March 2016
44 ON FARM Research into the use of drone technology to improve on-farm management and efficiency during lambing will soon be under way thanks to an AWI-supported grant. The research will be undertaken by 22-year-old Amy Lockwood, a PhD student at Murdoch University in Perth, who was presented with a Science and Innovation Award for Young People in Agriculture earlier this month. Amy grew up in Albany in Western Australia and completed a Bachelor of Animal Science with first class Honours at Murdoch University in 2014. Her PhD project is investigating the effects of lambing density, flock size and stocking rate on ewe-Iamb behaviour and lamb survival. POTENTIAL OF DRONES Drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), are controlled either manually in real time by a ‘pilot on the ground’ (eg a farmer or researcher) using a remote control, or autonomously by the drone following a pre-programmed flightpath. Drones are able to have a camera mounted on them that relays vision back to the operator. Drones can be used in a grazing enterprise as an alternative to some of the jobs normally done in a ute or on a bike, such as monitoring stock, pasture, water and fencing. “This project in particular will assess the effectiveness of drones to help sheep producers remotely monitor lambing ewes, their feed or water sources during lambing, and identify ewes with lambing issues,” Amy says. “Observation of ewes and lambs using drones is regarded as less intrusive than observation by a person walking or driving amongst the flock. By limiting disturbance to lambing ewes and potentially increasing the frequency of monitoring, drones could aid in improving lamb survival (particularly during the first three days of life when more than 80 per cent of lamb mortalities occur) and therefore woolgrowers’ productivity and profitability.” ABOUT THE PROJECT Over three days during lambing, up to 250 twin-bearing and single-bearing ewes will be monitored in separate paddocks using different drones. Fixed wing drones will be used to identify the location of the ewes in order to assess their distribution within each paddock and the proximity of lambing ewes to other ewes. As the development of the ewe-lamb bond is central to lamb survival, multicopter drones will be used during the first 30-90 minutes following the delivery of each lamb to assess behaviours associated with bonding. Amy says ewes will be monitored for lambing issues or signs of ill health to determine the potential of drones to be used for monitoring animal health and welfare. “Behaviours we plan to observe include the time the ewe spends grooming each lamb, the amount of time the ewe and lamb spend together, the duration between the birth of the first and second lamb, and interactions between the ewe-lamb and other ewes. “The drones’ effectiveness for assessing water, feed and fence-lines will also be monitored. “The different drones used, including fixed-wing and multicopter drones, will be compared in order to identify their benefits and limitations for specific purposes.” LAMBING DENSITY AND SURVIVAL The knowledge and experience gained in this project will have direct relevance to other studies into the relationship between lambing density and lamb survival. “Of particular value to me,” says Amy “this project will help assess the feasibility of using drones to assess ewe-lamb behaviours and the distribution of ewes within the lambing paddock for my PhD project.” Assessing the location of ewes within the lambing paddock could help us to understand how lambing ewes utilise the paddock and to define ‘lambing density’, or the distribution of birth sites within the paddock. *The Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture are coordinated by ABARES and are open to young people aged 18-35 years working or studying in rural industries. The annual awards aim to encourage the uptake of science, innovation and technology in rural industries. MORE INFORMATION A.Lockwood@murdoch.edu.au DRONES TO MONITOR LAMBING EWES New research aims to provide an insight into the ability of drones to be used for monitoring lambing ewes and their offspring, potentially increasing lamb survival and reproduction rates. A style of drone called a multicopter which is a small multi-rotor helicopter that can hover. The camera, which relays vision back to the operator, is mounted on the drone’s underside. PhD student Amy Lockwood from Western Australia who is the recipient of an AWI-sponsored Science and Innovation Award for Young People in Agriculture.
In the Shops - March 2016