Johann Leib’s farm is situated on some hairpin bend above Feistritz am Wechsel (district Neunkirchen) at an altitude of 780 m above sea level. Steep slopes and windy areas are characteristic of the landscape. Keeping fertile soil where it is is not always easy here.
Because the rain is rapidly washing away the soil from the slope. Working with farm machinery for decades is to blame for this, which has compacted the earth. “If a heavy rain event occurs now, in the best case it will leave me with an earthen field, in the extreme case the earth will be lost forever,” explains Leeb.
four acres per hour
Every work step which doesn’t require tractor to drive in field so good for soil. So the Austrian Board of Trustees for Agricultural Engineering (ÖKL) is now testing the use of seed-seeding drones. The electrically powered drones can hold up to ten liters of seed, and the grain is then delivered to the field from a height of two to four metres.
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“This way we can spread seeds and propagation material relatively easily and with a relatively large area coverage,” explains Michael Treblemeier. Drone pilot and trader specialized in agricultural drones. His drone’s battery lasts only seven to eight minutes, but the seed tank is still empty and the drone has to go back to base to refill. The drone requires only one hour to cover an area of four hectares. The battery is charged by a petrol engine.
Drones can fly even in rain
Unlike a tractor that gets stuck in the field when it rains, the drone can fly even in bad weather. “The only limitation is of course wind. Although the drone is relatively wind resistant, the effect of wind is not always beneficial when it comes to spreading grit,” explains Treblemeier. Incidentally, the air flow generated by the drone helps with sowing: it directs the seed evenly across the ground.
sowing using drones
The Austrian Board of Trustees for Agricultural Engineering is testing sowing seeds using drones in Lower Austria. that the soil should be protected.
Although drone management in Austria is still in its infancy, its demand is increasing. “We have many farmers, especially on steep slopes, who ask for it,” says Anne-Catherine Batz from KL. Not only the arable farmer, the technique is also suitable for livestock farmers: “If I oversee pastures with a drone, I save several roundabouts on the slopes. The grazing cattle then trample the seeds and after a few weeks I have a good seed again,” explains farmer Leib.
Safety for Skylarks and Quail
The use of drones is beneficial not only for farmers but also for nature. For example, skylarks and quails breed in the fields. “They don’t bother when I fly the drones,” says Leeb, adding that the tractor will destroy their nest.
One of these seed drones costs 25,000 euros without the necessary transport vehicle. Despite the many benefits, Farmer Leib wouldn’t buy one at this time: “I see this as a new area of activity for Machine Ring or for its specialist contractors.”
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