Drone, drone on the range
WILL Wilson has been using drones to round-up cattle for a few years and says the machines will become a normal part of future farming.
"We always thought there was an opportunity to use them because our property's not big enough for a helicopter," he said.
Mr Wilson said drones were the perfect device for covering his 800ha Calliope Station property.
"Sometimes I can round-up a herd with one drone. I reckon I've covered 3000 kilometres of flying," he said.
But it hasn't been all clear flying as he's had a few problems with minor faults or damage caused by human error.
With seven drones at his disposal, Mr Wilson doesn't worry too much about accidents.
There's no point being timid with them. If I crash one it's not exactly the end of the world
I've run them into trees or branches but it's cheaper to repair a drone than a motorbike or helicopter and best of all I don't get hurt either."
According to Mr Wilson, the cattle generally respond quite well to their aerial drovers.
"It's people that drive cattle mad but I've got cattle here that have only been mustered by drones, although I have had one knocked out of the air by a bull," he said.
Plus, it's not just mustering that the drones are useful for.
"When it floods they're handy for checking the creek levels from a safe distance and we can live feed to our neighbours or the
TV news," he said.
Mr Wilson thinks that drone mustering will be the way of the future.
"It doesn't take long to learn how to use one and they're cheap to buy, run and fix," he said.
"Quite a few of my neighbours have got them now."
According to an Agforce spokesperson drones have become increasingly popular on rural properties.
"They get used for checking fences and hard-to-reach places like shed roofs, windmills, scrubby country and dams," she said.
It may or may not be the end for cattle dogs or rounding-up herds on horseback, motorcycle or four-wheel drive but the future of mustering is definitely up in the air.