by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
TAS Country : May 10th 2012
24 Tasmanian Country Friday, May 11, 2012 The Stock Report AIR SPRAY: Corey Hillsley demonstrated what the helicopter could do at Agfest. Picture: ROSS MARSDEN Flying weed sprayer KAROLIN MacGREGOR Remote control way to go COREY Hillsley has what most blokes would consider a dream job. A motorbike engineer by trade, Mr Hillsley's career took a different direc- tion when Yamaha, the company he works for, asked him to learn how to fly their remote-control helicopters. While it may look like Mr Hillsley is just playing around, the helicopters are actually valuable agricultural equip- ment, which can be used for a number of applications including weed and crop spraying. Last week, Mr Hillsley was demonstrating exactly what the heli- copter could do at Agfest where it drew quite a crowd. ''Sometimes I have to pinch myself and remember that I'm actually being paid to fly these things, because it is a lot of fun,'' he said. The helicopters have been used extensively in Japan for many years and were developed there in an effort to reduce the number of aerial spraying pilot fatalities in that country. In Japan they were primarily used to spray rice paddies, which are often in small areas, located close to houses and other obstacles, Mr Hillsley said. This makes using normal aerial spraying aircraft highly dangerous. Two of the helicopters, worth about $120,000 each, are in the country, but another 36 will be imported over the next 12 months. The helicopters cannot be sold in Australia due to concerns over safety, but Yamaha has established a fran- chise and lease system, which means the helicopters can be hired by the hour with an operator. Mr Hillsley said the helicopters were not all that difficult to fly, once the initial skills were learnt, which took about two weeks of training including some simulator work. The helicopter has two eight-litre spray tanks, which click off easily and can be filled in a matter of minutes. Mr Hillsley said the helicopter was ideal for spraying in areas where normal vehicle sprayers cannot be used. He said they were also excellent for spraying smaller areas when con- ditions were too wet. When spraying Mr Hillsley said ideally the helicopter should be 3m-4m above the ground. The natural downdraft produced by the helicopter blades also forces the spray on to the ground or weeds where it is needed. Mr Hillsley said a crew of two operators normally worked with the helicopter through line of sight in a range of 100-150m. He said this ensured that when the helicopter was further away the second crew member could ensure spraying accuracy was maintained. Strict fail-safe measures are also in place to stop the helicopter flying out of control. Mr Hillsley said if the helicopter lost contact with the remote control, it would automatically land by itself and shut down. The helicopter has a top speed of 40km/h, but Mr Hillsley said the optimal speed for spraying work was 15-20km/h. Special regulations have been devel- oped by the company in conjunction with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to allow the helicopters to be used safely. The helicopters run on standard fuel combined with two-stroke additives. While they may look quite delicate, the helicopters are well built and can withstand wind speeds of up to 10m/second. ''As far as spraying goes, we use the same guidelines for wind speeds as all the other agricultural sprayers, but wind is not really a problem for actually flying them -- they're pretty tough,'' Mr Hillsley said. DNA tests help breed top Merinos ROGER HANSON QUALITY: Improving Merino stock NEW breeding traits and improved accuracy levels are set to bring DNA technology from the cutting edge into the mainstream for Merino breeders looking to improve the quality of their flocks. The breadth of traits that can now be identified will enable producers to balance improvement in their stock, while also targeting specific factors important to their individual busi- ness such as carcass yield or worm resistance. ''DNA test results improve the accuracy of estimated breeding values and breeders using these tools to select breeding stock will be able to make faster progress and simul- taneously improve a range of traits such as wool, meat quality and resistance to parasites,'' Sheep CRC chief executive James Rowe said. Delivery of DNA- based breeding values is a result of research led by the Co-operative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Inno- vation (Sheep CRC), through its Infor- mation Nucleus Flock and Genomics Pilot Projects. Results to date have been delivered via two Pilot Projects through Sheep Genetics to their clients of Merinoselect and Lambplan. Operating as part of the Federal Depart- ment of Innovation In- dustry Science and Re- search's CRC program, the Sheep CRC is a collaboration of indus- try, government and the commercial sector. It is working to increase productivity and profitability of the industry through new technologies for adoption by both the meat and wool supply chains. The genotyping of young rams can now be used to produce predictive research breeding values (RBVs) of sufficient accuracy to help breeders identify rams that will produce progeny with superior dressing per- centage, good wool production and improved eating quality. The RBVs are based on a blend of new DNA technology and the con- ventional measurement techniques which support Australian Sheep Breeding Values (ASBVs). ''High-value traits -- such as adult fleece weight and adult fibre diam- eter that can only be measured late in life -- can now be accurately predicted in young rams based on DNA analysis. ''This will provide Merino stud breeders with greater confidence in making earlier selection of their breeding stock,'' Prof Rowe said. Another trait identified from the research, which will be of particular appeal to both stud and commercial Merino breeders, is the new research breeding value for horn/poll. ''The accurate prediction of horn/ poll breeding values has already helped to explain a number of puzzling situations in which polled rams have produced a high pro- portion of horned progeny. Use of the new genomic information should make it a lot easier to breed for polled animals in the future,'' Prof Rowe said. ''New DNA tests are also set to provide accurate determination of parentage and this test will be very valuable for a wide range of breeders. ''Genomic pedigree testing will be particularly beneficial for breeders using syndicate mating and for breeders preparing rams for shows where the timing can interfere with fleece testing. ''It will not be long before sheep breeders will be able to affordably use DNA testing to determine pedi- gree, horn-poll status and for esti- mating breeding values early in an animal's life. ''The benefits will be faster gains and better balance in ram selection and breeding programs.'' Summary of some of Merino traits that can be predicted from DNA analysis from samples taken any time after birth, Trait and Accuracy of prediction: Greasy fleece weight (Yearling) 0.7; Mean fibre diameter 0.77; Staple strength 0.35; Birth weight 0.37; Yearling weight 0.64; Post weaning eye muscle 0.44; Post weaning fat 0.45; Post weaning worm egg count 0.27; Horn/Poll PP, PH, HH. Information on how to apply genomic research breeding values to improve Merino production, visit www.sheepcrc.org.au or www.sheepgenetics.org.au
May 3rd 2012
May 24th 2012