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Queensland takes water monitoring to new heights with drone technology

The Queensland Government is taking an innovative approach to water monitoring, using drone technology to assess water levels in dams and bores in remote areas.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said drones have the potential to become part of day-to-day farming operations, drastically reducing the time it takes to accomplish vital tasks.

As well as water monitoring, this includes using drones to detect disease, target weeds, and assess crop health, breeding lines and pasture growth.

“Many of these activities could previously take days of labour-intensive effort, but with drones they can now be accomplished in as little as a few minutes,” Furner said.

Drones can also be used by farmers to map water flows and drainage lines, site new dams and irrigation points, and plan new drains and catchments.

Queensland is at the forefront of drone technology in Australia, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk unveiling the country’s first ‘drone strategy’ at the inaugural World of Drones Congress in Brisbane last year.

Palaszczuk said the aim of the program is to build local industry capability in drone research, design and development, which will in turn attract investment and create jobs in the state.

This has already had flow on effects for water, with the Queensland Government developing drone technology that protects an important agricultural product – sugarcane – as well as local waterways.

“The Queensland Government has developed a drone that can fly over sugar cane fields, identify weeds and take them out with a targeted shot of herbicide. This saves time, money and helps to reduce herbicide runoff into local waterways,” Furner said.

Industry is also on board, with Queensland utility Seqwater using drone technology to assist with reservoir condition assessments.