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Ranching with drones gets extra lift

TRU research project handed $664,000 in federal funds
September 12, 2016 12:29 P.M.
From left, Minister of Technology and Citizens Services Amrik Virk and TRU President Alan Shaver with UAVs used by John Church in his precision ranching research project. (TRU)

Cowboys will have it made in the shade.

Drone technology capable of transforming cattle ranching will be advanced through national research funds going to TRU’S natural resource science department.

The National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) has announced $664,000 over three years to fund the development of unmanned aerial vehicles as a precise means of monitoring cattle on the range.

TRU’s John Church, lead researcher, and his team have been working on the technology for some time in partnership with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. The project was previously awarded $122,000 from the Canada-BC Agri-Innovation Program.

B.C. Innovation Chair in Cattle Industry Sustainability and a member of a fourth-generation ranching family, Church believes drones could transform the industry.

Their goal is to develop precision methods that provide resource managers such as ranchers the information they need to graze cattle for optimal productivity. The UAVs are equipped with thermal cameras that can spot cattle from above, even when there is forest cover.

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