Life on the Farm!

Eight years ago my family and I returned from a suitably lengthy tour in glittery Las Vegas to the family farm in leafy Oxfordshire.

Replacing the lights and glamour of “The Strip” with the quiet (and sometimes quite muddy!), fields of a sheep farm was quite a change of pace.

As a self-professed UAV geek, one of my first purchases was a DJI Phantom (other Quadcopters are available) as I had plenty of space to mess about with it.  My drone quickly became one of the most useful tools on the farm, just behind the quad bike and the sheep dogs.

One common task when keeping livestock is to count them to make sure none have escaped or are upside down in a ditch.  The problem with sheep is they all look the same and, annoyingly, keep moving about.  Before the arrival of the Phantom we had to round them all up (several hundred) and bring them into the yard for a count.  Now with the drone I can quickly send her up for an aerial photo and just count the white dots (no jokes about falling asleep).  With a bit of practice, you can also use the drone to herd the sheep between fields, but I don’t think the dogs are too happy when their jobs are taken over by robots.

I would dearly like to do more UAV work on the farm.  Precision agriculture is a fascinating area of development that can help to reduce farming costs while increasing crop yields.  One of the fields here is rented out by a local R/C club and there always seem to be a Squadron of electric motor powered aircraft buzzing around the place.  I have tried to encourage them into working together to develop some ideas in how to use all these aircraft to collect sensor data over the farm, however they are seemingly more interested in seeing how hard they can hit the Oak tree at the end of the runway.  If anyone wants to get in contact to discuss this capability area (precision agriculture, not crashing remote-controlled planes into trees), I would be delighted to chat!

The modern working practices at Inzpire make it possible to both keep my hand in (so to speak) on the farm while still managing the Unmanned and ISTAR Division . The ability to take leave when I need it (lambing time, haymaking), sometimes at short notice is incredibly important to me.  Flexible working times and the ability to work from home is also very important, especially with these short days and the inability to predict when a lamb is going to decide to make its grand entrance.

In turn I am able to turn one of the fields over to our Inzpire family for the annual Summer Camp Out.  One weekend a year we all don our waterproofs, fight with tents and build a big camp fire.  In truth it is usually a hot Summer weekend with lots of BBQ and Pimms (other alcoholic summer drinks are available).  This year saw the kids take part in the inaugural Nerf Hunger Games which was set up in the field with a number of hay bales and a whole load of screaming children.  Once again the Phantom made an entrance to film the carnage and count the kids….we didn’t want to lose any of them in the ditches either!

 

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