By Shelby Brooks

ALTHOUGH drones sometimes get a bad rap, Inverloch’s Michael Green is hoping people can see their potential for good.

Michael, who runs independent production house Drift Media, said with the right method and approach, drones were capable of incredible things.

“We hear about drones all the time these days – mostly in negative terms like when someone flies over a bushfire or spies on their neighbour,” he said.

“Whilst those things do happen, as a professional pilot, I feel I have to remind those I chat to that drones aren’t just used to do bad things.”

A lot of the work Michael does with drones is in the agriculture and environment sector, helping producers see their farms in new ways.

“Most of our work is capturing shifts over time, for example crop health or changes in vegetation,” Michael said.

“We program the drones to fly exact courses over things so that we can come back and fly exactly the same course again and again.

“This allows us to build up a vast amount of data and information.”

Recently, Michael helped muster a mob of cattle in far East Gippsland with one drone and one dog.

He described it as the “strangest but most amazing job”.

“Ten years ago, this type of work didn’t exist at all. Three years ago, Remotely Piloted Aerial work existed mainly at the high end of the market -mainly in large scale mining by those who had the budget to adopt drones. In the early days, they were expensive to fly and even more expensive to crash,” he said.

“I am struck at how amazing the technology is, and how cheap drones have become. They have moved from being expensive, and potentially dangerous, to an amazingly complex data capture tool for the farm. “Using infra-red camera, we are using drones to map out plant health and to scan farm assets. It is incredible!”

During COVID-19, Michael continued to produced content for local water authorities, the CFA and VCOSS as well as for local Landcare groups and shire councils.

He said he wasn’t sure if there had been an increase in interest in drones during COVID-19 lockdown.

“I’ve noticed a large uptake of drones over the last few years. We run a pre-accredited course for first time flyers, and I am seeing more and more landholders and farmers exploring the potential of drones,” he said.

“I think there is still a craft in getting great aerial images, in the same way that there is a skill in being a safe and competent pilot.”