Ruralco alliance with PrecisionHawk

One of the world’s biggest providers of commercial drones and drone data platforms wants to help change Australian regulations so farmers can fly drones over bigger distances on rural properties and capture a wider range of data to cuts costs and lift yields as part of an alliance with farm services group Ruralco. Source: The Australian

Patrick Imbasciani, senior director international business development for PrecisionHawk, said the company had just opened an Australian office and appointed its first executive on the ground in Australia to work out of Ruralco’s offices as the group ramps up its local presence.

PrecisionHawk has worked with the US Federal Aviation Administration to pioneer flying unmanned aerial vehicles, better known as drones, beyond the operator’s line of sight and the company is keen to share that experience in Australia.

“We are the first zone company to be granted beyond visual line of site in the US. We want to try to work with the government here to try to do the same in Australia,” Mr Imbasciani said.

“In the US it really has gone from the hobbyist world to where it is commercially accepted as a solution by companies the size of Monsanto … The insights that can be used from this are viable in order to lower costs and increase yield for farmers.”

Ruralco hosted a field trip for investors to its Tasmanian operations where it displayed its latest drone technology following the appointment of Joshua Voelker, a former senior flight technician and an account manager for PrecisionHawk, as the inaugural manager for Australia and New Zealand operations for the US headquartered company. The technology was only launched in Australia two months ago after being unveiled at the National Farmers’ Federation Conference in October.

“Many farmers have a drone. The difference with this product is the analysis and software,” Ruralco CEO Travis Dillon said.

“In Tasmania we showed a demonstration of the drone in action and the data that comes with it. It is about increasing production.

“Taking the data and the images and turning it into a recommendation you can use with a farmer … Every header in Australia has GPS and yield monitoring. But you need to be able to take the images and the data and turn it into something the farmer can use.”

Mr Imbasciani said that in the US the company was now integrated with manufacturing platforms, including John Deere, where farmers could send signals captured by drones digitally to machinery on their farm.

He said the company wanted the same applications to Australian farms. It also wanted to reconfigure its US applications for the Australian market.

“We can modify our technology. We can apply corn-counting technology in the US to row crops here,” he said.