‘Infarm’ Drone to Tractor Weed Solution Wins QLD Gov Funding
An Australian agriculture-tech startup can now get its ‘drone tractor solution’ precision weed targeting system to market with the help of a grant from the Queensland Government. Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch said InFarm received Ignite Ideas funds under the government’s $420 million Advance Queensland initiative designed to develop new products and create jobs.
Infarm is a drone tractor solution, which analyses drone images and identifies fallow weeds. Information is then plugged into farmers everyday spray rigs for a targeted herbicide prescription.
It provides a fallow weed management solution for farmers. Drones have had a lot of promise over the years but they haven’t delivered. This is one of the first complete “drone to tractors” solutions that has real world on-farm applications and integrates with farmers existing machinery.
Ms Enoch said the system was great for the environment and farming, and warranted investment. “InFarm’s drone-to-tractor weeding system considerably reduces the use of herbicides on fallow paddocks, which is good for the land and for individual health, also saves money. It’ll be the first of its kind once commercialised,” Ms Enoch stated. “This is another fantastic example of a regional Queensland business leading the way in agricultural technology and a business model which will contribute to the growth of existing rural companies, open the door to new jobs, and keep agricultural jobs in local cities.”
InFarm make use of drone technology to collect pictures from fallow paddocks and then applies a unique weed identifying algorithm to the image data collected, creatings a file identifying the exact location of the weeds.
Using a simple USB stick, the farmer can transfer the data file into their tractor turning their standard variable rate sprayer to a precision sprayer. Ms Enoch explained the Goondiwindi startup will utilize the $100,000 grant to increase the drones’ capabilities.
“InFarm can currently fly and procedure 60 hectares of fallow land per day, however they will need to raise this to 500 hectares a day to meet farmers’ weed spraying requirements,” she said.
InFarm Director Jerome Leray said the startup was testing and developing the model around Goondiwindi in south-west Queensland, but wheat farmers in Western Australia also lined up. He said they had interest procedure data for at least 100,000 hectares of fallow land and to fly over.
“Our intent is to create partnerships with agronomists, local machinery dealers and recognized agricultural service companies. They’ll fly our drones and acquire the data, thus raising the services they provide clients, then bring the drone info back to town for processing, which eliminates any on-farm online connectivity issues,” Mr Leray said.
He said fallow weeds were one of the biggest and most costly problems in broadacre farming.”When a paddock is left handed weeds appear, absorbing soil moisture and nutrients needed for next year’s harvest — and this could have an adverse effect on yields.” Mr Leray stated the software of InFarm eliminates the practice of spraying the entire paddock and defines the zones comprising weeds.”
By targeting freshwater zones, InFarm can save cotton, wheat and other broadacre crop farmers up to 80 per cent on herbicide bills,” he explained.