An additional $2.8million in funding has been announced to encourage farmers to use drones for some everyday jobs.
The farm safety funding was announced by the NSW Government last week, with the program designed to encourage producers to use the devices to check on fences, dams and stock, silo inspections, weed control and sheep mustering, rather than using a quad bike.
The Quad Bike Safety Improvement Program now includes a rebate for one drone per eligible business and an extra $1.25million to continue the quad bike safety rebates program for the next two years.
NSW Farmers raised the concept of including the purchase of new drones in the QBSI program last year after hosting a series of drone-training sessions for farmers, which identified the safety benefits of this flying farm-management tool.
NSW Farmers’ president James Jackson said the announcement was an innovative step forward for farm safety.
‘‘Recent improvements in technology, user friendliness and price points are making drones more adaptable to commercial farm use,’’ Mr Jackson said.
‘‘While it is not a common farm tool as yet, farmers who have experienced using a drone at our training sessions are quickly drawn to it and can see significant potential for drones to replace other tools and vehicles on farm.’’
The QBSI program also offers two rebates worth up to $1000 each to replace an existing quad bike with side-by-side vehicle, or have it fitted with Operator Protective Device, as well as a free helmet and free regional quad bike trainings.
‘‘This highly successful program is progressively changing attitudes and behaviours towards quad bike use, generating significant safety investment on farm and gradually driving down quad bike-related injury and fatality rates,’’ Mr Jackson said.
NSW Farmers will continue to press for the introduction of a safety rating scheme of quad bikes and SSVs to help farmers make a better informed decision at the point of purchase.
■Farmers can apply for the existing quad bike rebates, administered on behalf of SafeWork NSW, and the new $500 drone rebate on the NSW Farmers’ website: www.nswfarmers.org.au/
■For more information, visit: www.safework.nsw.gov.au or phone 131 050.