Flying high to keep an eye on the irrigation system

By Cobram Courier

November provided plenty of good flying weather for a key tool of Goulburn-Murray Water’s survey services team.

Drones are used to save time and money when it comes to planning, construction and maintenance of the more than $5billion in irrigation assets.

The G-MW team found time to explain the use of drones and put on an aerial display for a keen audience at Numurkah District Health Service on November 15.

As part of its Numurkah network of Planned Activity Groups, the health service hosts monthly meetings of elderly residents to keep them engaged and involved in the community.

The network’s rural group includes farmers, most with a cropping or dairy background, who have retired to Numurkah.

About a dozen members, along with nursing staff, had a first-hand look at several drones, including the high-tech Matrice 210 and its thermal imaging camera and accessories.

The group then travelled to nearby netball courts where G-MW employees and CASA-accredited pilots draughting officer Graeme Eadie and service manager Rohan Forster put a less expensive, but highly capable DJI drone through its aerial paces.

With permission, the drone snapped some ‘‘selfies’’ while the practical applications of the tools were shown with the flying demonstration.

‘‘These tools help us quickly, efficiently and accurately map channels and access otherwise inaccessible areas, check the structural integrity of our infrastructure and have a host of other uses,’’ survey services manager Glenn Collins said.

‘‘Such exercises also help to spread the word on how drones are contributing to safety and saving time and effort in the field.’’

Mr Collins said it was also a pleasure to show new technology to farmers who have lived through decades of their own forms of innovation in agriculture.

‘‘These people are all former customers of G-MW and many in their family remain our customers today,’’ he said.

‘‘We appreciate their interest and continued involvement in the efficient running of the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District.’’