LOOKING UP: Innovation is in the skies and students will take a look at the possibilities of drones in agriculture.
LOOKING UP: Innovation is in the skies and students will take a look at the possibilities of drones in agriculture. Steve Debenport

Sky's the limit at our own 'Game of Drones' comp

THE SKY really is the limit for up-and-coming science minds who will compete in a 'game of drones' in this year's Hermitage Schools Plant Science Competition.

With a catchy title and topical theme, the competition's aim to make agricultural science a fun and engaging area for school students.

Competition organiser Kerrie Rubie said drones were an innovative tool that could be applied to the agricultural sector in innovative way like crop spraying, planting and soil and field analysis.

"Kids are using drones for fun but we also want them to learn how they are used in agriculture and science," Ms Ruby said.

With 70 schools across the country already registered for the competition, the theme is proving popular.

The technological focus takes the competition in new direction to previous years, while still retaining an interest in growing plants.

Students will have to complete a range of different tasks as part of the competition.

"Entrants must grow a small crop of plants and will need to regularly photograph the developing plants in order to analyse plant growth and health using simple computer programs," she said.

"Other tasks include undertaking research into how drones and robotics are currently used in Australian farming practices and a global study on how advances in technology can improve the livelihood of farmers and communities in developing countries.

Ms Rubie said the tasks were designed to get kids thinking about agriculture in a global context.

"It's not just Australia we are producing food and fibre for. We need to double our global agricultural production by 2050 and we now have less resources and land space to work with, so we need innovative thinking," she said.

The national competition reflects some of the cutting edge research that is being conducted at the Hermitage Research Facility just outside of Warwick.

We have technical officer here who is working on drone technology and looking at how drones will assist with the research that we are doing.

Ms Rubie said students with an artistic flair need not be deterred from the competition.

"Students with an interest in art can also enter the Art in AgRiculTure Awards, which includes creating a drawing or model of a new drone or robot capable of being the next big game changer in the future of agriculture," she said.

Entries for the competition close on June 29, giving students and schools plenty of time to put their thinking caps on and get innovating.
 



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