GRDC is one of the world’s leading grains research organisations responsible for planning, investing in and overseeing research, development and extension to deliver improvements in production, sustainability and profitability across the Australian grains industry.
2024 Nuffield Scholar
Can drone advancements offer solutions for farming challenges?
2024 Nuffield Scholar Paul McGorman runs a mixed operation producing barley, canola, lupins, oats and tillage radish as well as a 3000 head Merino flock on Kangaroo Island, South Australia. Recent wet winters made it impossible to access some of his paddocks with a ground spray rig. Now, Paul is interested in whether drones can resolve this, and other issues, for Australian farmers.
“Initially we had joked about using a drone, then as we looked into it further, it became apparent that drone technology has come a long way. We have researched alternatives as to how we can logistically access water-logged paddocks and discovered that agricultural drones are now a practical option. We have now purchased our own agricultural drone, but trying to get the efficiency and greater hectares per hour out of the machine is the next challenge."
Paul says he’s curious about “what agricultural drones can do, not only for crops and pastures, but what other rural industries they can be applied in as an alternative piece of farm machinery.”
Paul hopes to travel to the US, where drones for agricultural purposes have experienced a huge growth in popularity. He’s also interested in traveling to China, where some major brands are produced and used, as well as France, which is the largest drone market, Japan, Thailand and New Zealand.
Paul's scholarship is supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).
While drones are being adopted on some farms already, Paul has realised first-hand that using them in a cost-effective way can be challenging.
“The aim of my research is to make the use of agricultural drones feasible for all Aussie farmers.”
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