Technology playing an increasing role in WA agriculture
TIME trials have been held pitting the skills of student drone pilots against sheep dogs to see who wins in a race around an obstacle course.
The trials are so much more than a race. This is the future of farming.
Not too long ago a race between flying drones and sheep dogs would have been pure science fiction.
Now drones are becoming a big part of modern farming.
The dog was fast, but tradition stood no chance against innovation with the robots taking the win.
Students at Northam’s Muresk Institute were behind the controls of the drone
Institute general manager Prue Jenkins said the competition was great for students.
“The technology just hooks their interest and then they are open to exploring other opportunities in agriculture,” she said.
It’s all about exposing the next generation of farmers to the incredible technologies now used in agriculture, like robots and drones.
The inaugural Drone versus Dog trials were held last year with 12 per cent of participating students going on to explore careers in agriculture.
“The jobs are changing but they’re there and a lot of them are very focused on that upper level of technology usage,” Ms Jenkins said.
Agriculture currently supports 1.6 million Australian jobs, with that number expected to grow by 10,000 each year.
“There is a big skills shortage,” Ms Jenkins said.
“Industry are still quite reliant on visa holders coming into fill some of those gaps.”
While people will always be integral to working the land there’s a growing catalogue of high-tech helpers taking on some of the work.
From digital farm hands to precision pest management, even automated fruit pickers - all developed on Australian soil.
“You could actually be working on St Georges Terrace in a suit each day, that’s the nature of agriculture now,” Ms Jenkins said.