How drones are helping the South Burnett grape harvest
CLOVELY Estate Cellar Door has paved the way for wineries by using technology to make the most of their harvest season.
Cellar Door manager Tom Albert has been considering introducing a drone to their winery for a few years now.
Mr Albert said they introduced the drone in December last year.
"Drones used to be a lot smaller, they didn't fly as fast, and the batteries didn't last anywhere near as long as they do now,” Mr Albert said.
"So we put the idea on the back burner. Then last year I saw this program on the ABC about grain farmers down south using drones...so that got us talking about the option of using a drone again.
"So then we invested in a drone...and it's been great.”
One of the main challenges wineries face during their season is birds eating the grapes.
"We've always got lorikeets and crows, and other birds coming and stripping our vines,” Mr Albert said.
"You could use things like guns, lethal control, and nets to prevent this.
"We try to very conscious of our neighbours with the noise and of the birds themselves.”
The drone Colvely purchased is fitted with a speaker and video camera.
"With the drone speaker we play noises of eagles and hawks to scare the birds away,” Mr Albert said.
"What's really useful about this drone is that it flies itself. I don't have to be there using a remote control the whole time it's in the air.
"So we plug in a GPS system and the drone flies itself up and down our vineyard. We pop in the coordinates and it will fly where we want it to and then come back and land itself when it needs its batteries changed.”
This means Mr Albert was able to attend to other work while the drone kept the birds at bay.
"While the grapes were growing we were using it daily, doing about six or seven flights a day. I was able to just chill in the Cellar Door and work from the comfort of aircon. This made things a lot easier.”
Mr Albert plans to continue working with the new technology to better the running of their vineyards.
"We're also interested in potentially doing a bit of aerial filming with the drone...as well as some photography. Hopefully this will help us to map out our vineyards,” Mr Albert said.
"There's information that would be easier to collect from a bird's eye view. For example checking the health of the vines.”