The Queensland natural resources department will deploy drones to drop agricultural chemicals and wipe out weed infestations in affected areas across the state.
The Department of Natural Resources and Mines is using Yamaha RMAX drones coupled with satellite imagery techniques developed by Queensland’s department of science and information technology to make tactical strikes on high density pest weed infestations too difficult to conventionally control.
The department appointed Queensland-based serice provider PBE Services for the project after a two month trial of emerging weed control techniques conducted in April this year across two properties.
The use of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was deemed to be the most effective and the 'first strategy of its kind' in tackling weed pests in Australia, the company said.
It found the application of chemicals using the UAV worked in 99 percent of the cases with "no evidence of shadowing or missed spraying".
The two properties used in the trial were chosen for their significant operational issues, which reflected the nature of weed infestations elsewhere in the state.
“In the past, [such] sites have been problematic because of varying topography, very high density weed infestations and the presence of native species,” Minister Andrew Cripps said in a statement.
The satellite imagery technology is used to map weed density, indicate areas where weeds need to be targeted while considering the “strategic nature” of the infestation.
PBE Services will also provide a commercial pilot to operate the drones while Desert Channels Queensland will provide a trained navigator and logistical support.
“The highly effective drones are able to cover one hectare for every eight minutes in the air and can deliver their payloads to within one metre of the target,” Cripps said.
The program is expected to cover 250,000 hectares a year. The DCQ will consult with affected property owners to develop a five-year plan to ensure long term control of the targeted weed species.
Queensland’s police department is also planning to use drones for aerial police intelligence in the lead up to next year’s G20 summit in Brisbane.
The drones will be used for surveillance on criminals gangs, drugs and traffic operations, and will cost $30 per day of use, according to the Courier Mail.
The QPS’ compatriots in South Australia this week approached the market for a fleet of aerial drones for similar surveillance operations, particularly in areas where helicopters aren’t able to be used.
SA Police wants to purchase the drones before 20 December, under a scheme initially expected to cost around $200,000 for four drones when the plan was first unveiled in June.