Imagine the sheep running to the farmer rather than the traditional picture of farm dogs barking and herding the sheep.
Utilising technology in agriculture is nothing new. And most people are familiar with drones and how they work, so there's the assumption that drone technology in agriculture utilises the drones to bark like dogs and herd the sheep. As novel is that may be, that's not the situation for one farmer who has trained the sheep to associate the sound of the drone with food.
Those with small farms and a handful of sheep might shrug given that their familiarity with utilising food treats to attract a handful of sheep. But this farmer has got 300 breeding ewes who follow the airborne device.
In the beginning the sheep were provided with the sheep nuts at the same time as the drone flew overhead. In the animal behavioural world that's known as using "positive reinforcement". Utilising the principles of Ivan Pavlov, a Russian scientist who used positive reinforcement to train dogs to associate particular noises with food, this farmer's sheep nowfollow the drone and come to their herding point, even if there is no food.
"It's certainly time-saving and would help improve the welfare of millions of sheep across the country" is a summary that has significant rrelevanceto those who are looking for ways of elevating standards of established animal husbandry practices by introducing methods that promote an animal's positive experiences rather than its fear.
There are obviously important reputational and trade considerations for countries which rely heavily on agriculture and their animal welfare reputation to trade in the global marketplace e.g. Australia, New Zealand