Drones on the radar at farm forum

Last updated 08:32 17/02/2014

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The use of drones on farms will be a hot topic this week when international farming specialists meet in Palmerston North.

More than 250 delegates, including farmers, scientists, rural industry professionals and policy-makers are coming to the Massey University-hosted 27th Annual Fertiliser and Lime Research Centre Workshop.

Delegates will discuss how primary industries should respond to the Government's new growth agenda, especially with the need for continued improvement in on-farm environmental practice.

Massey professor Mike Hedley said the three-day workshop would tackle the big issues facing the sector.

"We'll be looking at the hardest question for New Zealand - how do we earn a First-World crust from primary industries, while protecting and improving the quality of our natural land and water resources."

Precision agriculture professor Ian Yule said remote sensing through drones would be talked about and how they could play a role in meeting the challenges of balancing environmental sustainability with higher food production.

"The drones will help increase productivity by providing more accurate information about when and where fertiliser and nutrients need to be used," Prof Yule said.

"It will also help sustainability by preventing unnecessary runoff into river systems."

There will also be presentations from overseas specialists, including Professor Steve Raine from the University of Southern Queensland, Australia, who will talk about advances in intelligent and autonomous irrigation and fertiliser efficiency.

The conference starts tomorrow and runs until Thursday at the AgHort Lecture Block at Massey University in Palmerston North.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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