Hark, hark, the drones do bark


Hark, hark, the drones do bark

New drones made specifically for farmers in New Zealand are herding livestock, with sound effects

Sanet Oberholzer

From photography to whale watching, delivering pizza or fighting wars – the list of what drones are being used for continues to amaze. Now it seems drones are taking on the role of man’s best friend.
Drones have been used on farms in New Zealand to carry out agricultural tasks such as surveying crops and checking on stock. Recently, however, “barking” drones are being used to herd sheep and cattle.
The latest technology allows farmers to record sounds – in this case their dog’s barks – and then play them over a speaker in order to herd livestock. Made by Chinese technology company DJI, the Mavic 2 Enterprise can be bought online for about R37,500.
The product description reads: “Drone built for New Zealand farms, with a zoom camera, customisable loud speaker, impressive range and long flight time.”
Speaking to New Zealand-based news website Stuff, farmer James Parsons said he used one drone to seven working dogs on his farm.
However, despite advances in technology, working farm dogs should not feel threatened as farmers say drone technology is not likely to replace them. As advanced as the drones may be, dogs still outperform their rivals in wet weather and windy conditions.
According to Parsons, dogs can work for longer periods. “You get about 20 minutes out of the drone – 15 minutes of working time and the five minutes it needs to fly home. Having the camera, it’s good for seeing where you need to go with the dogs but I’m not of the view that drones will replace working dogs. We probably don’t use ours as extensively as we could and there is a place for them on farms but there’s still a place for dogs, too.”

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