Cattle-herding drone?

In her presentation at this year’s DJI Airworks 2020 Conference, South African based drone professional, Louise Jupp gave her opinions on how drone technology could be harnessed in livestock farming – now two farmers in Israel have gone a step further to prove her right.

Noam Azran and Dvir Cohen – the founders of BeeFree Agro, a start-up company that has combined DJI’s drones and a software technology called Joe to actually heard livestock on the farms – actually admitted that they stumbled on this drone capability to herd livestock by accident.

“The story of BeeFree Agro begins in a cattle ranch in the Galilee Heights,” they say on the company website. “Like all farmers, we encountered economic and social changes that forced us to adapt. Initially using drones for visual surveillance, we quickly discovered that animals react to them. That’s how JOE was born.”

What the ranchers discovered was that cattle tended to shy and move away from drones as they got near; so they had an idea – why not use the drones to deliberately steer cattle in certain directions?

“JOE is a technological system that moves up to 1000 heads of cattle over vast expanses of land without human intervention, using a single drone. Named after our favourite herding dog, JOE displays all the characteristics of a good herding pal: intelligent, loyal, follows orders, autonomous, fast and easy to operate.

“JOE revolutionized our lives, significantly reducing our operations costs and organizational and personal stress levels. Join us in pursuit of faster, simpler and more cost-effective ranching.

It is a new way of looking after livestock on the farm; one that admittedly needs more time to finetune and get used to, compared to shepherd dogs and men on horseback.

Having used this technology over the last five years, the farmers claim their JOE drone software solution has saved them half of their usual labour costs; saved on horse transportation, vehicle wear and tear, new worker training and recruitment, and above all – time, which they have spent with their families.

Let’s see if it gains traction in the new year.


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