The level at which technology is advancing globally is remarkable. The use of drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in the forestry, agriculture, game, and conservation sectors forms part of the techological advancement in industry. The Nelson Mandela University continues to invest in cutting-edge knowledge for its students in its efforts to produce high quality graduates that are up to date with current trends and developments. The School of Natural Resource Science and Management, together with the Mandela Uni Forestry Association hosted Mr. Sean Hill from EARTH Drones to deliver a guest lecture on drone technology. The main aim of the lecture was to demonstrate how UAVs can be used for a variety of applications, ranging from tree measurements, wildfire monitoring and suppression, wildlife research, flora and fauna conservation, herbicide spraying, and seed capsule dropping.
Students from different natural resource disciplines of the Mandela Uni attended the session. These included students from agricultural management, forestry, veldfire management, nature conservation and game ranch management. Sean started his presentation in demonstrating the different types of drones and their uses in the commercial industries, with specific focus on agriculture, forestry, wood science, and conservation biology. He also explained how this technology works and all the neccesary legal and governance aspects related to training and operations. He ended his presentation with potential research areas where this technology can be used and adapted to simplify operations and improve the use of data based decision-making
The lecture was followed by a field demonstration of how the drone operates. Students had the opportunity to see the drone flying and spraying some of the alien invasive woody plants in practical.
The use of smart technology, like UAVs in solving environmental challenges and simplifying operations is central to progressive development of our industries in South Africa and globally. More research still needs to be done to scale this technology use for other applications like NIRS in wood science modelling and change detection for foliar diagnostic indication.
Source: Nelson Mandela University