Written by Kristy Wright

Gardyne Family Farm

Neil, Philippa and Mark Gardyne have taken to the skies to increase efficiency and productivity on their southland farm. “We are using our Aeronavics BOT for general farm use and to monitor stock. Our ‘eyes in the sky’ enable us to check for cast stock, monitor sheep at lambing time and muster stock. Using the Aeronavics BOT saves 20% of the commute time around the farm, with further room to improve.

The family’s southland farm is vast in size, with tumultuous terrain that is difficult to navigate via quad bike. Previously, a 5km mission would have taken 40 minutes to drive. Now the same area can be covered in 5 minutes using the Aeronavics BOT – “the drone has reduced our quad bike commutes by 2,000 km last year. We’ve saved $8,000 and lowered our accident risk.”


Since investing in the BOT, Neil says they’ve halved the number of cast sheep deaths. “50% of cast sheep flown over by the drone right themselves if we get to them early enough. On average we save 40 ewes, this equates to $12K saved per year”. The BOT is also used for weed control, and looking at water infrastructure — “we can find a leaky trough with the drone and then decide if we need to go out on the farm bike and fix it. Instead of taking two trips we’re just taking one. A 1.25 hour trip on a quad bike around all the troughs takes the drone just 15 minutes.”


Aeronavics prides itself in the ‘ready to fly’ packages offered to clients. The ease in which pilots can learn to fly these machines is further highlighted by looking at the age of the chief pilot of the Gardyne family – Mark Gardyne has been flying since he was just 13. Mark has been using the BOT to undertake farm and drain mapping and photography for farmers. Drainage mapping can cost up to $1,600 for a half day with a helicopter, whereas a drone can do the same job in minutes.


The family has plans to continue to increase efficiencies with the use of their BOT. Their expected productivity gains are in the range of $200k in the future. “Dry Matter Monitoring will be the holy grail, because if you can maximize quality pasture you can maximize lamb growth rate, and even 100 grams per day increase in lamb weight per 10,000 lambs can equate to thousands of dollars per day in gained meat production.”


The Gardyne’s are a prime example of how Aeronavics technology can be integrated into farming to increase productivity, efficiency and reduce health and safety risks farm wide.