Rio Tinto Coal Australia
Blackberry in steep grazing country
'St Antoine' – Cassilis NSW
The steep cattle grazing country recently acquired by RioTinto Coal Australia in the Upper Hunter Valley, NSW has several major weed issues, one of which is Blackberry.
Due to the steep terrain, access to and hence treatment of the Blackberry by traditional ground based weed control machinery and personnel is limited and very inefficient. As a result, progress to date in the management of this weed has been slow and expensive.
Using the Yamaha Rmax Type II G Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), we were able to access and comprehensively treat the Blackberry. Flying over each individual clump of Blackberry, treatment of entire thickets was achieved which is not possible with hand spraying. The selective herbicide Grazon Extra® was used to ensure protection of beneficial plants such as grasses found adjacent to the Blackberry.
Safety and Efficiency:
The Rmax provided a safer and more cost effective treatment of the Blackberry when compared to previously applied land based spraying. The rotor wash from the helicopter distributes the herbicide deep into the thickets, achieving comprehensive coverage and far superior results.
Below is an excerpt from the analysis undertaken by Rio Tinto:
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Further detail on the capabilities and safety benefits of the Yamaha RMAX Type II G.
Comparison to land based options
A comparison with the land based spot spraying programme (using Quikspray) undertaken at the same property in
2014 is provided in Table 3.
Table 3 Hand spray vs Aerial spray
Some immediate advantages of aerial spraying, as observed through this trial, are:
• More area covered in fewer days;
• More direct application of chemical;
• Less chemical required;
• Per hectare cost is lower; and
• Weed control is possible on previously inaccessible areas with steep slopes