Andy Clark, Horticulture Program Coordinator for Goulburn Murray, facilitates a webinar session:

High-flying insights: Detecting crop stress with drones

  • Luke Weekly from Falcon UAV - multi-spectral cameras on fixed wing and multi-rotor drones
  • Laurence Tedesco, General Manager from Elgee Park Winery - use of thermal imaging and how it highlighted the stressed areas across the crop

For more information reach out to:, 0414 560 648

Remote Sensing - Future proofing horticulture in a changing climate Sept 2023

Luke Weekley, from Falcon UAV, discusses the use of multi-spectral cameras on fixed wing and multi-rotor drones which pick up a wider visual spectrum of what we can physically see to the naked eye.

Laurence Tedesco, General Manager from Elgee Park Winery, discussed the use of thermal imaging and how it has highlighted the stressed areas across the crop.

00:00 Introduction

01:54 IAV aerial imaging

28:03 Elgee Park Vineyard

37:42 Q&A

Video Transcript -  High-flying insights: Detecting crop stress with drones

First of all, I just wanted to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we are all meeting from today. I'd also like to pay my respects to elders past and present. This webinar is part of a series of webinars called Future Proofing Horticulture in a Changing Climate. And our intention is to run a webinar on the last Thursday of every month, featuring a timely piece of technology relevant to the horticulture industry. Today we're going to be looking at crop health and with a focus on early detection of crop stresses using remote sensing. So in doing this, we have Luke Weekley from Falcon UAV, who's going to talk through their approach to the work and Luke uses the technology and then goes right through the process through to helping him to improve soils from the data from the UAVs and along with him and to speak about the experience that he's had, in using this process is Lawrence Tedesco, who's the general manager of Elgee Park Winery. And then once we've been through these presentations, we'll have an opportunity for everybody to ask questions and have a bit of a Q& A session around what's being presented. I think at that, I'll hand it over to you, Luke.

All right. Cool. Thank you everyone. And great. Thank you so much, Andy. And I really appreciate everyone's time today. Obviously with Falcon UAV we specialize in land care using aerial imaging or otherwise known as drone technology to really isolate how to maximize and encourage the crop growing cycle through early detection of stress, ensure optimal environments for soil and ensure that throughout that it throughout the growing season that we're, we're able to be testing and monitoring rows and vines or fruit orchards, pastures, in anything really in agriculture more effectively. Technology has obviously come a long way with the utilizing different types of sensors now. We utilize multi spectral cameras, which leverages near infrared and different rays, different bands, which then just picks up a wider visual spectrum of what we can physically see to the naked eye, which we'll go through in this presentation.

I'd like to also thank Lawrence Tedesco, who's general manager of Elgee Park, that has been working with us now for some time. Lawrence joins us today. We'll have a look at his place and talk about how the improvement's been happening there. I do have some images that I was hoping to have in this presentation, but... If I can get them in whilst Lawrence is talking, we'll do that, but otherwise we'll get into it. I've just prepared this quick video, which kind of summarizes I guess, drone technology, how it works and then how you can utilize it in your business.

So those drones there, a couple of the drones we utilize obviously we're distributors here also in Australia for these fixed wings. They just facilitate much, I guess, longer flight times. And the benefit of these is you don't need to be, you don't need to have all the formal pilot licenses because they fall under that two kilo threshold.

But so in terms of regenerative methods and using drones in agriculture, it's for us, really, I'm from an agricultural background. We, we actually have stud cattle and stud sheep, and forever we had a method of just putting down inputs into our property just because we hadn't done that before and from traditional synthetic fertilizers through to now we're full regenerative now.

Obviously cost has always been one of those things you have to watch but leveraging drones you can now start to apply the product as the areas need it at the right time. Not having to have that blanket approach. So we've actually found a 30 percent decrease in our overall spend. And what it's allowed us to do is put down better quality product obviously, you know, specific custom blend prescription product, biological and nutrient wise that we're able to address the issues specifically that we're trying to address. And we're finding we're getting much more increased yields, better nutrition and ideally better growth that we're looking for.

So regenerative methods, certainly drones and agriculture allow you to make more informed decisions more effectively using precise analysis and increase ultimately your yields and reduce your cost. That's what we're all about working with our partners to, to really help them increase their overall production, reduce what their input.

So NDVI is one of the methods that we look at. So that stands for Normalized Different Vegetation Index. It's essentially, to keep it simple, a measure of where is it at vigour and growth. And obviously, healthy leaf. And that's measured through multispectral lenses that these cameras carry.

So the drones are really glorified flying devices that are carrying around really high equipment technology. They are freely available. You know, you can go and buy you know, Chinese drones quite easily, but you really want to make sure that they're able to do the job you're looking to do. There's more specialized units out there that can help you identify what you need to look for and then the software to help you do it. Otherwise as a service, it's something that you know, we take a lot of pride in. And ideally, you're looking for that, that vigour. So, at different points in the growing cycle, you're using different lenses, and the drones help you throughout each month see how you're tracking along.

In terms of explaining NDVI a little bit further as a vegetation index, this area here, where it's green, this is essentially what we call visible light. This is what we see blue, green and red. So when we see an aerial photograph or like a photograph in the background here, that's what's known as an RGB or an orthomosaic photo that we are, it looks like what we see, but the bands and the cameras start expanding outwards and you start getting into, you know, the further out you go, ultraviolet, infrared, microwave and the benefit of these additional bands allows you to detect crop stress, vine stress, leaf stress, and even now, thermal cameras is allowing you to detect surface temperature pressure as well, which we'll go through in the presentation. So, the impact on surface temperature, if you've got certain rows that is reading much higher surface temperature than other rows, that can affect how the ground there is leveraging, mutual that is leveraging mineral and nutrient because hot, hot soil will chew into your mineral nutrient four times faster than cooler soil. And we'll go through that today as well.

So really the best way to detect crop health. There's a myriad of different ways to get imaging. Satellite data is freely available in a lot of sources otherwise the benefit of drone data is that it's live. It's not it's not delayed. It’s not impacted by cloud cover. But more importantly, you get centimetre grade resolution, so you can really almost drill down to the leaf on the plant. Satellite data and we'll go through that a bit later as well, is quite difficult to sort of  see. Instead of 10 to 15 meter wide resolution, it's delayed and it's greatly impacted by cloud cover. So there is a, a strong benefit towards utilizing drone data or drones for this kind of exercise. On top of that, you can equip the drone with thermal cameras and be able to really plan out what you're trying to achieve.

Okay so the opportunity for farmers and agronomists really is estimating annual yield more accurately. It can help you make decisions. Drones can offer so many benefits to be able to help you, you know, gather more on demand insights quickly and more efficiently.

Being able to identify knowing where to treat and how much and really knowing where not to treat is, I guess, a huge opportunity. Also, you know, there are equipment that drones are now carrying, audible devices that we stock that can detect that can be used to detect and deter birds as well in certain periods. So they can be they can be deployed at intervals where birds can be then deterred from actually coming onto your, into your vines or your rows or your fruit in and that offsets netting and we have clients using those instead of netting saving a lot of money there. Most importantly, though, also is the reduction of chemicals and fertilizer and allowing you to put down what actually is going to be, give you the best return on your investment through the constant testing that the leveraging the power of the units and the cameras can allow you to do because now you know where to test, you can see where to treat, and you don't have to wait till the end of the season, just kind of find out the result.

For us you know, in our farming operations, being equipped to make precise decisions was something that we, was really motivating us to explore this more deeply and how we can better maximize our efficiencies and ultimately increase profit. So year on year, we're actually now focusing on more biology now. So helping the soil, unlocking the soils potential and then, and that's obviously allowing us now to reduce our reliance on, on nutrient every year as well, which has been really good for us. Now I'm just going to get into the next slide here. So this is what we're committed for. So, Andy just asked me to explain, you know, difference from really between satellite data versus drone data. And obviously there's a lot of you know, versions of it. But I thought we'd just go and clarify that. Here is an example of satellite imaging, and this is looking at sort of circa five to 600 acres this block here, and essentially this is a vegetation index, and you can kind of see you can get a guide on green being vigorous and red being areas of concern or orange, slight stress.

But this is otherwise what's known as Sentinel 2, V2 satellite data, and a lot of different, like, machine companies and so on, you can get this quite readily. MLA websites and other sort of things by cyber labs, but I mean, in terms of making informed decisions are to us that wasn't able to help us. So then we looked at obviously what we can do with drones and then all of a sudden the whole world changed. And as you can start to see, this is that same area now flown with our AgEagle UAV X with the multi spectral cameras, you have all the different lenses here, and this is your standard RGB lens photograph here. So you can kind of now start to see the level of detail. This flight was flown at 120 meters from the ground and you can start to immediately start to see areas of concern. Down here is the vegetation index reading and areas detecting crop stress and areas otherwise that are, that are strong in vigour and yield. This graph here to correlate is interesting because we leverage this to then go out to certain areas and test soils, do leaf tests, and then understand what's happening.

This same unit, this same flight was in flown with this thermal camera. But what's interesting, it was about a 26 or 27C degree day. And you can start to see in some areas of these fields, they were reading up to 40 degrees, and we had, we did this in conjunction with Landcare and Federation Uni, and the professors said that that's not uncommon. They likened it to a warm day on bitumen. It heats up very quickly. So if you imagine your vines, if you are in, in vineyard or fruit orchards, the impact of that can suddenly happen on your rows and what that can do. So here is an example of a vineyard. That's what's called an orthomosaic or aerial view. You can see the house and the working sheds all through here. This is the multi spectral lens across the place. You can see areas of concern. And this is the thermal view looking at surface temperatures. But when, what we addressed with this particular grower was when we started to look into some of the rows and we tested the soils, this time it wasn't a soil. The soil was actually okay, nutrient deficient a little bit. But what the big noticeable change was the heat of this particular row was significantly hotter than other rows. And so what that meant was that now due to lack of shading, they would need to apply more, a lot more organic compost and make sure these rows are really fuelled to ensure that they don't hit the end of the season and they find out later. And there's a lot of otherwise, it's very laborious exercise manually walking up and down all your rows every single day. So this client is utilizing the technology to help them maximize their impact each and every single month.

So in terms of drones and what's out there to leverage, there's fixed wings. So we use these in 95 percent of our flights just because we can scan with a multi spectral camera as you saw earlier. We can scan up to 100 acres in 18 minutes. Now, if you did that with a quadcopter, which we also leverage for smaller, tighter working kind of spaces, they're really handy. You know, that kind of distance would take over a day and you'd be regular battery changes and everything else. So, for a normal little multi rotor to do that coverage. The fixed wings are designed for bigger area, faster, variety from camera payloads, same as the multi rotors. The benefit of the multirotors, of course, is that they can carry more weight. So they can carry, you know, like things like sprays. So we use spray drones. So, so the benefit of this is that we're able to now leverage the multirotors are fantastic for carrying spray drones. So you may have seen spray drones working out there, applying chemical fertilizer or nutrient. So the spray drones are great because you avoid soil compaction you don't need. They can go where tractors can't go. The downside of course is that they, they're limited due to battery life. But we can comfortably cover around 20 hectares an hour. With our spray units, they sort of carry between 20 to 40 litres of solution at a time depending on how concentrated you need to do it. But they're also a fantastic solution. So multirotors have a purpose and do more tactical working. The fixed wings are just fantastic for fast scouting, I guess, of an analysis of crop and stress and or you know, how it's performing throughout the year to quickly identify areas throughout the thing. So here is just an example of a flight that I put together earlier. You should be able to see this. So this is the mission planning software that comes with the units. And we essentially map out, we map out the area. Don't worry about that warning, it's just because it's a simulation. So this is essentially showing how the software,

so the software maps out the area that we're going to be flying over. And then each and every month throughout that cycle, you just release the unit again. The unit flies by itself. You don't need to control it. It flies by itself in the air. It's GPS tracked and located, and it's mapping that whole area for you in the field.

Once that unit lands, you take down the images, and then essentially you run them through the software. We do that, obviously, for our clients, and they can manage it on their behalf. You can see all the different types of, depending on what you're looking to do. All different types of cameras available, depending on what you're looking for.

Are you looking for crop stress? Are you trying to identify areas of, you know, hotter areas, surface temperature? Are you trying to look for best place to plant your rows? Are you looking to do fence lines? Are you trying to count trees? There's so many different applications of how you can leverage drone technology and remote sensing in your operation. It's, it has to become commonplace into the future because it's critical to maximize your potentials. And obviously, you know, other applications of remote sensing include as you've seen. Mapping that we've obviously been through. Reconnaissance, which is more testing, monitoring and spot spraying with more of those, you know, those quadcopter drones down here. These are examples of the spray units. Be aware with these units that it's not just as simple as, you know, going and buying a unit. I think a lot of people may think, you know, yep, go and buy a unit and off you go. You do, there are things you need to then go and do. You need to do a short course if you want to get into this yourself. You need to you need to apply for chemical licensing because there are certain permits and applications and certain chemicals you can't spray from the air. Glyphosate being one of them where you need to look at special approvals because you can get drifting. So there are things to consider with these multi, multi-rotor units but otherwise there are, you know, contractors and businesses like ours everywhere that can assist you in this.

But the benefit of these applications, you don't get compaction from tractor or tires. You can do spot spraying. So the maps that these units create for you for crop stress or what you're trying to identify can be easily uploaded into these spray units. So they then go out and only spray areas that actually need it. So you start to reduce the amount of nutrient or biology product, whether you're using more effectively. And that's how we're utilizing the two together. So other usage. Obviously, we've talked about monitoring, managing soil, water and crop resources, crop acreage, impact on where to treat over time identify identification of planting and harvesting date.

So that's really important because there are key periods, you know, in in flowering, and budding. You know, pre harvest you really, you know, a lot of our clients leverage this technology heavily on because they want to ensure that as we, and Lawrence will probably touch this, touch on this in a second from Elgee, it's really important to then maximize, okay how effectively are we going throughout that growing season and quickly and easily identify where we need to address before we get to the end. You can quickly identify pest and disease infestation. We were working with an almond grower. We identified one of their rows was showing quite a lot of stress and when we looked into it, it was actually an Ambrosia beetle that had that had Branched out and it was due to over, there was too much nutrient in the ground and that was quickly spreading through all the rows. So they can help you identify issues before they become a problem.

Soil moisture estimation, as you can see up here, this is what Federation Uni were doing. So they saw that this area was obviously quite hot and they started testing the moisture levels in here. And then we formulated a plan for them to get that moving using an organic compost. Everything as you're seeing is GPS. So, you know, every single marker is, has got a geolocation built into it. So it can be tracked exactly to the point of where you can need to address. But in terms of you know, everything else we've talked about, particularly now we're going into El Nino, I think we're officially in El Nino. It's really even more important to keep on top of your operation through this kind of technology.

This is just an example here of the moisture testing and then the level, the readings difference between the hotter areas and obviously the cooler areas, again through drone technology and then linking that up with moisture probes is a great way to keep track. And now there are tools out there that can assist you throughout the growing season in real, if you've got moisture probes, in real time how these areas are going on your property that we can assist you with otherwise.

So interpretation of data, remote sensing using UAVs or unmanned aerial vehicles or drones equipped with the right sensors can be useful for enhanced decision making and really yield estimation, yield prediction. They can help you solve problems. Everyone can probably read this and identify better utilization of land.

We use this technology to improve your soil condition environment and maximize your phenological cycles throughout the crop stages for optimal yield and reduced inputs. Remote sensing or RS is excellent opportunity to provide spatial overview or pasture properties or rather than just point data only. Data, it does require interpretation. So, you know, when you go, if you do decide to purchase and do this yourself. You know, there is some mapping software and so on. But once you know what you're doing it's honestly, it's just it's really easy and it just makes so much sense. This is an example of, you know, from the mapping and what we do traditionally, we used to just go and take we had our soil reps from the companies that used to help us with the mainstream companies that would just come out to our property. Agronomists would arrive, they would take soil from random parts of our property and just give us a map to soil test and tell us what was going on with our soils. But we knew that there were certain sections of our property that had different soils. We knew that when we were running our livestock or anything was in that particular area, it wasn't growing the same as certain other areas. And so that's where now with the drones, we actually, we can soil test exactly specific areas of our property. And now we can understand what those areas need separate to other areas. So it's really allowed us to start looking at, you know, well, what this area actually needs in terms of trace elements nutrient versus what it actually has.

But more importantly, we're also now looking at biology. The deficiency, particularly in a lot of biology, in a lot of the soils we manage client's behalf is is amazing. And without biology, you're really unlocking that opportunity that you have to maximize and reduce the amount of compost fertilizer you actually having to apply because the soil starts working for you. But the benefit is you can, you can turn this all around with a program. So, maximizing the phenological stage of the crop cycle becomes important. So, here's just the typical example of the sort of spreadsheets that we manage with clients where, you know, we obviously do, we pick the type of sensor we're going to look for. Are we looking for surface temperature? Are we looking for crop stress? What are we going to do? We fly the unit, we grab the mapping data, as you can sort of see over here, this client utilised all sensors. We then had our soil consult, we grabbed soils from up in these hotter areas and down in these sort of cooler areas to just detect the difference. And then we had a consult based on all the findings. So, you know, and then our agronomy team basically will then work with you to say, okay, well, in this section of the property, and this particular client had a compost mix that they were using that was actually fair. We tested the compost fertilizer as well. We found it was really high in, uh, iron. And what was interesting in the soil reports was up here in these hotter areas, the soil was already really high in iron. So just putting more of this compost fertilizer on up here wasn't helping. So that we in here they didn't need to put it on at all because it was already really high on although down here they could leverage it so automatically you're reducing their spend because you're helping make more informed decisions using the technology and then these are biological and nutrients that style of products that we then prescribed to them. Over the growing season we run leaf tests throughout we do another flyover to test how the performance is going and then this is just a bit of a, a program for them over a 12 to 14 week cycle of what they were doing for their crops. So then just looking at, I guess, what's called the five step precision plan, which we, we kind of try to manage. So really try to align your requirements and expectations to, you know, what are you actually trying to look for? And this is something that you know, to consider if you are going to go down the path of exploring remote sensing in your operation determine the mix of aerial and survey activities required, what type of cameras, therefore, are you going to need to work out what you're looking to do. Obviously, you know, work out the areas you want to execute the flight plan and obviously, evaluate the results.

Step two for us, deploy the units. So get the units up in the air. Get the flights done as frequently as you can to be able to monitor throughout. If you are using contractors, ensure they are licensed and they have their relevant insurances and the relevant qualifications. There are a lot of people at the moment, Civil Aviation Safety Authority, they're, they just can't keep up with the amount of work they have on the go. And there are a lot of people running around that don't have the appropriate certifications and you know, flying without the proper licensing. So just check all that out if you are working with anyone in this space for your own insurance purposes.

Basically, once the drones in down the ground, all images you can process through the softwares that are available for people. And obviously then, you know, as a prescription, we treat the area based on the soil testings that we do. And obviously then it's just a matter of rinse and repeat throughout the phenological cycles of that crop. So in a nutshell I'm going to pass across to Lawrence at Elgee. He can talk a little bit about what we've been doing there together and I guess Elgee and what their focus is at the moment and how, where we're going from here.

The first thing we did really with Luke was to bring the two drones to Elgee Park and pretty much just have a play around with them. The I was really interested in, I call it the bird, what's it called? Luke, the basically, because it's a it kind of looks a little bit like a wedgie, Wedgetail Eagle and you can you can set a flight plan for it and get it to fly periodically. We haven't purchased it or we haven't looked too much into it, but I really like it and would actually like to bring it back to Elgee and play around with it more during the, you know, during the fruiting season when the nets are on, when there's birds around and just see how it goes. So I'm hoping to talk to you Luke about that, so we can learn a little bit more about that. The other thing we did is we flew the, we flew the drone over and did the imaging, the thermal imaging, or the imaging there that you can see on the right-hand side. And you can see the that's essentially the Elgee Park vineyard there. There's, there's two blocks. There's a, the block on the far right, which we call the east block, and then the long kind of narrow block, which we call the north block. Along the north block, there's a big cypress hedge that runs down one side. It's been there since 1958 or 1960. So it's a pretty big hedge and you can see along there that there's some stressed, which is the dark kind of purple areas, there's some stressed areas at the top of the vineyard on the far left hand side from the, from root stress. You can see it all, obviously, you can see that hedge in the aerial photo and the, with the aerial photo, the nets are on the vineyard. So when Luke was out with us at Elgee Park, we were just about to harvest. So it would have been, I think we started harvesting early March. So I reckon it would have probably late Feb. You can see it looks quite, the grass looks quite dry, but you can see the black nets and the green nets on the East block. So, obviously the nets didn't make any difference at all.

The soil on the north block is quite good and you can see that there's a lot more stress on the right hand side on the east block and that's because when the vineyard was put in on that section, it was very undulating and essentially back in those days in the 70s when they put this vineyard in early 80s, late 70s, they just bulldozed the soil, they just bulldozed it level, which meant they took the, there, that's where Luke's got the arrow now. They took the topsoil off the top and essentially put it in the gullies. And so we're, we've ended up with a vineyard that's, it's, if you like, it's growing on, it's kind of growing on subs, on subsoil from the way that they shaped the ground to provide a level vineyard. They've, they just bulldozed it, ripped it, and bulldozed it. So you can see those stressful, those stressed areas that run up the gullies. There's about three, three gullies on that on there. We know those areas exist because you can actually see them in the vineyard. But the image obviously highlights that, as it did with the left hand side, with the stressed area from the cypress hedge. So it really kind of, drives home the areas that are struggling in the vineyard, and it's a, it's actually a big difference between those two blocks. And there's a big difference in those blocks with cropping, with disease pressure. Obviously vines, the vines are stressed, there's more disease pressure and the soil is quite, up the top. You can see the lines of stress on the top of that east block. It's actually the bottom, if you like, yeah, through there. See those lines? That's all rock, that's all rock through there. There's a lot of rock in that section. And as a result, those vines throughout there, you know, are quite stressed compared to the block on the other side, which wasn't bulldozed because it was a more level block. So there's a lot more top soil in that block.

So we then did some soil tests and yeah, which Luke's got there and he'll probably be able to talk a little bit more about the nutrient that we put on, but we, after post harvest basically we put on two applications of nutrient and we intend to put on some more liquid feed now through the growing season through October, November and we intend to do some PDL samples to, to monitor the uptake of the nutrient and see how the vines are going. And the, I would say the soil tests are probably, you know, reasonably straightforward, like any other property where you've got excess of some elements, lacking in other elements, and you just got to go through and work out a blend that you think would work well. The other thing that we wanted to do was in create, create encourage the grass growth or the sward throughout the vineyard so we could have a nice healthy cover crop. We, we've done a lot of kind of cover cropping in the past. We didn't do it this year. We just encouraged the rye grass that was there to grow and it's growing really well at the moment and we've done a couple of cuts and we're just trying to, cut that grass and let it sit under the vines and create its own natural kind of mulch.

But obviously if that's happening, we've got to keep track of what's going on with the soil and how much nutrient that's using actually while it's breaking down through the, through this period. So we're just going to try and track that as, as well.

One of the things we did also, as well as put the nutrient on we did a root barrier trench down the left hand side where the cypress hedge is. So we, we cut a trench through there to cut those roots. We went down about 1.2 metres along the side of the road. There's a road that you'll see on the photo, on the aerial photo, that, that runs down that vineyard. And so we've cut a route cause we, we could see from the, from the images, the stress that was creating from that hedge. So we cut a root barrier, which I actually did many, many years ago. And sometimes with these things, it's a lot of this stuff, we, you already know that's going on around your property. If you spend a lot of time around the farm, you see things and you think, Oh, I should do this and I should do that. But what this, does for us, it just kind of highlights the issues and you think, yeah, I really do need to address that, or I need to focus on that. And so it just sometimes these things actually just reinforce what you already know. And it's either you haven't done anything about it because you've been busy doing something else or you've looked at it a few times and considered doing something about it, but not. So, yeah, these photos here, these are recent photos taken last week. You can see the budburst is pretty healthy across the vineyard. And the, and you can see also the pretty good shot of the grass growth. So what we're hoping to do is just, yeah cut that and keep, keeps, we actually did some cutting yesterday and we're trying to slash that and throw it onto the under vine to act as a bit of a natural mulch rather than trying to bring too much product in, which we have done in the past, but it can be pretty expensive.

It's amazing, Lawrence. Thanks, mate. And you can sort of see too, really where, where you've made those, you've cut that hedge back was up through here, wasn't it? Or yes, yes, down up through there. Yeah. That was on that road. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That was clawing away obviously at the vines performance there as well. So and that's, and you can sort of see obviously the bigger improvements in some of these applications that, and more focus as well. And as I said, the Chardonnay was on fire, which is good.

Yeah, yeah, it's all, it's all looking, it's all looking really good and so we'll just keep monitoring it and following through and looking forward to doing some PDL samples and just see what, what the vines are, what the vines are taking up and then do some more imaging again, probably around the same time next year and just continue to track it. We could be in for a dry season so we, you know, it might show up areas that are water stressed this time or we're not getting enough the irrigation's not up to the speed and, you know, it might help us stay on top of that as well.

Yeah, awesome. Fantastic. All right. Thanks, Lawrence. That's awesome. So, I mean, in summary drones we're coming in anyway can be obviously your eye in the sky in terms of satellite data, I think, you know, it shows centimetre grade accuracy, survey grade accuracy, saves a huge amount of time inspecting crops. That's a big one. And it's relatively straightforward. So, yeah, that's us. Please reach out if you have any more questions about the presentation or anything you'd like to know more, I'm happy to help. And thank you, Lawrence, again Tedesco from Elgee Park, really appreciate it. General manager down there. Sensational drop too, by the way. If you're ever in the area, they're near Merricks and yeah, be sure to drop in and say hi and watch, see Lawrence's amazing operation.

Fiona put a question in regards to the potential for yield estimation. How would you calculate that from the imagery, imaging?

Well, I guess, you know, I mean, that's that could depend on a million different things and I probably really need our soil agronomy team to sort of best answer that. But I think a lot of it just comes down to if you currently have an indication of what you're able to take off every year, it's probably now about understanding without guaranteeing anything. If you could be, if you could take if you could see more of your operation at all times throughout the growing cycle, it's about reducing that current loss that you're, you're factoring into your yield predictions every year. If you have a general idea of what you can get off each year, what you can't get off and what you know, your wastage and so on. It's about where you can offset that. That's I think the big one it's that way, how you can not only reduce your current waste or loss and because you're now able to take more control and better make better decisions over what you are doing without giving you a number specifically. I can tell you that in terms of inputs you know, between, we've personally, between 20 and 30 percent have reduced our inputs and now what is going down we know it's going down for a particular reason, like we're testing, leaf testing, fertilize we're testing compost mixes, we're testing everything and to ensure that it is going to actually provide assistance to what we're trying to do. And it's become actually fascinating that what's actually capable, what you can do with soil, particularly when you explore the biological route in reducing their reliance on nutrient because it's now you've improved that relationship between the plant and the soil itself, as you can sort of see with our Elgee so far this year as well. Everything that's going in there is going in for a purpose. And you may, and it could also depend on what type of soils you have. You may have different types of soils in your property that you know, are going to be you know, if you've got like, you know, red clay versus sandy loam, you know, you've got areas that you know perpetually wet. This sort of technology has allowed some of the clients we work with, they've built certain swale drains in areas to to get rid of perpetually bogged kind of areas. But now they can kind of work out where they need to. We've actually one client recently we discovered has a perpetually bogged kind of paddock, but we isolated it to a neighbouring dam, where the water was actually coming in from two blocks away across to their paddock and down. And then through that, they can then make their decisions. So I think it's probably difficult to put a number on it, Fiona, but certainly I'm happy to help and get our team in touch with you. If you want to reach out by all means, absolutely.

And Fiona's got another question. It would be really interesting to see how this could be applied to soil plot trails. Digiestate and inorganic ferts, for example. Oh, 100%. I mean, we've got dairy clients, for example, that, just need, you know, they'll say they just need their cattle, that they need, they just need to be you know, they need to be eating, blah, blah, blah, that they have, you know, they're using synthetic fertilizers, they can't seem to find the route with regenerative because regenerative takes time. Sure, if you know, if you're forced to use sort of synthetic styles of fertilizers at least this sort of technology allows you to work out where it needs to go and most importantly, where it doesn't need to go. I think land management practices and cultivation strategies you know, really start opening up here as well.

But in terms of the you know, the biological and nutrient, nutrient path, the easiest way we've found ourselves leveraging it is we can now apply a better product because we're not having to put as much down because what's going down is going down a specific area. So we can use better quality materials specific to what the ground or pastures or vines are looking for but in the right locations and then monitor it. As you, as Lawrence explained earlier. I hope, yeah, I hope that that we haven't otherwise done, I'm sure the research will be there but yeah, I, I agree Kelly, that would be, that would be really interesting to see how it could be applied.

There's another question here from Fiona. There's infrared imaging being done at ground level in California where bunch is identified, estimate weight to get yield, any potential for that here?

Yes you know, there's things like canopy height. You can sort of track canopy heights and you can sort of measure, you know, how they're going. It looks at the surface tip, the surface distance from the ground to the tree to the ground. So you can track kind of canopy heights. In terms of drones doing that. I know there's like fruit sizing and stuff in orchards and so on that do it. They, they take the They take the fruit through a scan machine once it's all, it's all been harvested and it kind of gives them fruit sizing. I don't believe at this stage there's potential for estimating weight of the grape. But I can tell you we have a wine vineyard that is using these images. And what they're doing, and this is it's actually fascinating. So they're uploading the images that you saw into their tractors, so when they're going down the rows and they're harvesting, they're, they've, they put themselves in the map because they, you can import this stuff into your machines if you've got the right technology. Or they're just, they're in certain rows. They can count the rows on the, on the maps and they're changing the bucket where there's a bigger vigour, like higher vigour and yield, they've worked out that they're getting a bigger grape a much bigger variety. And so they've changing the physical harvesting bucket on those rows where they've got a bit more vigour. And in the rows where they've got less vigour, they're changing the bucket to a different one and the grapes are going into a different batch that are then going into, are price differently. So that's how they're using the maps. So I don't think it'll estimate weight, but it will definitely help you identify, you know, how to collect and what to collect and where, or otherwise treat.

Scott asked, Jones are using large seed crops and some small seed crops to measure germination rates and complete stand counts, which can give you an indication for yields. Yes, that's true.

So you mentioned earlier that you're able to take on the imagery and then work with others. So if someone else has their own drone and they get up to speed on all the flying and they get the permits and the licenses and everything together, you can work with them from, you can work with them from the image processing through to the agronomic support levels as well. It's not necessarily just the flying of the drones where you're, where you guys are involved?

Yeah. So, you know, I mean, we're all about land management. And Falcon actually won an award recently, an APAC insider award for land management 2023. So the drones will won't tell you what the problem is. They'll just tell you where to look at and where to treat. So yeah, we, the bit, the bigger, I guess, more informative part of our practice is really working with clients and those images to then identify what is it we're trying to treat and look and then do all the relevant testing. So we, we have soil labs and you know, we get, we make all prescription blend fertilizers biological products all locally here in Australia. And our team of soil analysts then, you know, are constantly working with the growers to, to get what they need. So if people do have their units and they're flying their own drones and they need, they, they want to get some assistance on, on any of that, yeah, absolutely. We can certainly help, help you with that and, you know, know where to treat leaf test, all different types. It's just all about testing. Soil testing, test, test, test. You can never not test enough. I'm sure everyone on this call is testing all the time, but Yeah, at least now you know where to test and where to treat and what to do.

And, and the drone's become another tool in that kind of arsenal of things that you can use to test. So there's a, yeah, you can keep them, keep them going.

Oh, Scott's got one for Lawrence. So Lawrence, how has using the drones changed your decision making process within the vineyard?

I think it's more, as I was saying before, it's probably just Highlighting some of the things that we, we know, or we think we already know and just focusing our attention on them and just making it more of a reality. It's, it's kind of early days now, but and I think it's like anything, it's an integrated approach.

It won't be it won't be just, everything won't just be based on what the drones or what the infrared images show us, etc. But yeah, there's a few, few different areas there. It'll be good to, obviously, you know, once the, we've taken the image and we've got it on file, each season we'll be able to compare that image and see if there's any improvements in the stretched area. So that'll be really interesting. And then, of course, on top of that, as I was saying being able to potentially, you know, use it as a bird scaring device, probably in our, initially, anyway, in conjunction with the bird nets, it'd be nice if we didn't have to put nets on but at least initially, it'd be, it's going to be exciting just to play around with with that side of things as well. And potentially we'll use the drones in other areas of the property as well. We might look at a particular paddock that we want to do some work on or we might be able to compare paddocks and again we know which paddocks are probably doing poorly around the property. But it might just help us focus a bit more attention on the ones that need to be addressed.

Yeah, cool. So it's really going to fit in as part of the, part of the your working tools for managing the vineyard? Yeah, I think that's what we'll, I think that's what we'll do. We'll just, we'll, we'll just continue to use it and assess it, and like all these things, you don't there's no quick solution to anything. You've got to do it over a period of time and a number of seasons. Yeah. And, and do that in conjunction with obviously, you know, the targeted organic fertilizer, and we also want to, you know, try and get the, improve the biology of the soil in general as well.

Yeah. Yeah, that's cool. And was it, when you first got the first lot of images back, was it really interesting being able to see the property from that perspective and being able to get that overview of?

Yeah, it was and it was really, you know, interesting to be able to see those, as I say, those gullies like I was around when I was, I was a kid when that vineyard was put in and I kind of remember and know, you know, what that area was like, and it just really highlights those areas which particularly last season would've been really, really wet because the water the water was sitting in those gullies and, and potentially kind of sitting under the soil level too in the subsoil. And it really highlights those, the vines that we're struggling more because, because their roots are in that particular, particular zone. So it may mean that we've started doing some drainage work too, but it may mean in the future, depending on what happens, is that we, they would be the areas that we would focus on for drainage. There is drainage in that vineyard, but that vineyard's getting quite old now. So if we were looking at improving or redoing some drainage, you would be certainly using those images to help us pinpoint where we want to put those drains in.

Fantastic. It is and I think there has been lots of talk and what I really was intrigued about with Luke with how you were working and how you were taking the imagery was that, that full kind of approach to looking at the drones are one thing, there are, they're a tool, but this is what you can do once you've got the information and the data out of them, and there's tons of different ag tech solutions out there that will give you data, but it's understanding the data, which is sometimes becomes quite the hurdle in the process. So this is fascinating to hear, hear your ways of working through this process. Thank you very much.

I think it may not be an issue with drainage coming up, it might be an issue with which areas are more water stressed. And again, where we need to improve the irrigation. I think I've mentioned that before, but that's kind of in the forefront of my mind now. We've replanted some sections where we've pulled out old vines and replanted young vines. And you know, monitoring all those stressed areas or dry sections. Again, we probably just know from experience where those areas are, but I think it will be highlighting it and making us focus our attention on the things that we need to do and otherwise you tend to get sidetracked and do other things. And it's good to, it's good to stay focused on this stuff.

Thanks everyone for coming along. So there will be another webinar next month. Thank you again, Luke. Thanks again, Lawrence. Thanks, Andy. Thanks, Scott. Thank you very much to Lawrence. Appreciate it.

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