A New Member To The Mustering Crew?

On Friday I was lucky enough to be able to go for a burn in a gyro and I have to say it was the most fun I’ve had in a while, by the time we landed I had a ear to ear grin that would have rivalled the Jokers. So what is a gyro and why did it leave me so excited?

A gyrocopter (also known as autogyro or gyroplane) looks like a cross between a plane and helicopter, the power provided by the rear mounted engine powered propeller while the lift is generated by the free spinning rotor. Today’s gyro’s have evolved into thier own type of aircraft, they are a far cry from old “build Sunday crash Monday  home builds and even further from their distant 1920’s ancestors that looked like a mongrel cross between a helicopter and a plane.

The Original gyro

The Original Style

While today’s gyro’s may look a bit like a helicopter it flies and handles more like a fixed wing aircraft in the air but it there are some key differences, particularly during take off and landing. During the take off roll you start with the stick fully back and slowly push it forward to keep the nose just off the ground it gets airborne, on landing is different in that you land with a very steep approach and very little speed due to stall speed of zero. These characteristics give it some advantages over both helicopters and fixed wing aircraft that may be of use in agriculture and farming.

The New Generation

The New Generation

The gyrocopter that I flew in was the MTO Sport by the German company “Auto-Gyro” (bet thought long and hard about that one), it seemed to be a very stable aircraft in level flight but if you started to play with the stick you’d soon find out that it could be as manoeuvrable as you wanted it to be, with the only disadvantage being  that it can’t go negative g with out losing its lift. One of the biggest advantages is that it can’t stall, the aircraft can fly at almost any speed, with it being able to even drop back to zero without the aircraft plummeting from the sky, instead it just gently drops giving you plenty of time to apply the power (I know I was nervous watching the air speed indicator steadily drop back to zero). Another advantage is the incredible amount of visibility, the open cockpit and lack of wings allow for a brilliantly clear picture of the ground below as well as the surroundings making it easy to spot cattle, check fences and turkey nests. While the cockpit may be open the windshield keeps you well protected from wind and even the rain (so I’ve been told).

300ft

300ft

The hard deck for a gyrocopter is 300ft above ground level (AGL) which is 200ft below a what RA-Aus registered aircraft will be allowed to do, however if you get a low level endorsement you can go as low as you want over your own property (you here some stories of the grass brushing the bottom of the aircraft). Cost factor has to be the biggest advantage of all as a brand new gyrocopter will only cost you somewhere $80k-$100k depending on the options you choose and has a running cost of about $60 a hour compared to the $400 a hour a R22 would cost.

I believe the gyrocopter shows great potential for use on stations for mustering as well as other station duties, I’ve even seen you tube videos of one with a spray boom set up on it. But there is one thing I know for sure and that is I’m defiantly getting my endorsement when I can.

As always feel free to leave your own thoughts and comments below, and enjoy the videos of some gyros in action.

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What Is Going On?

WARNING CONTAINS RANT

Yes that’s right I’m sorry I’m doing this, I do try and keep the blog level and free of opinion and full of facts but the media during the last couple of weeks has lead me to this. We’ve got drones in the air, rangers calling for bullet proof vests, undercover activists and glass in gumboots, honestly what the hell is going on? has the country just lost its mind?

Lets start with the drone, Animal Liberation has just spent $14,000 on a new drone to spy on farms to certify organic and free range statuses as well look for breaches of Animal Welfare so they can report them to the RSPCA. For a start I think that’s its just a complete waste of money, a grab for headlines and probably Australia’s most expensive clay pigeon. My biggest fear with them flying drones over farms and around stock is that they’ll get a lot of footage of stressed stock and use it against us, not because stock is stressed because of poor Animal Welfare but because some bright spark is dangling a drone on top of them to check for stress and AW issues, but they won’t let couple of facts won’t get in the way of a good story. Also $14,000 is a lot of money to spend on something that won’t necessarily improve anything, so wouldn’t putting it towards fixing a issue that has already been identified be a better use for the money?

Another thing that was making headlines this week was park rangers calling for bullet proof vests to issued for when the National Parks are opened for hunting. Now I believe that no matter what a persons personal view of hunting is there is no need for bullet proof vests to be issued to park rangers as it is completely irrational and nothing more than a head line grabber. Statistically shooting is a very safe sport between 1997 and 1999 16 people died in accidental shootings while in 2012 284 people drowned, yet no one wants it banned and it shouldn’t be people should be able to have the freedom to swim if they want to just as qualified people should be allowed to hunt if they so choose. I firmly believe that if parks are opened up to hunters it will benefit pest control measures already in place and will be able to be carried out without risk to park staff, visitors or other hunters.

While on the topic of hunting the activist group Coalition Against Duck Shooting or CADS sent under cover activists complete with shotguns into the wetlands this year to monitor the duck  hunting. Again is this really necessary? Isn’t this just taking things too far and where do they draw the line?

Today I read a press release from the Victorian Farmers Federation after the link was posted on twitter (http://www.vff.org.au/media_centre/detail.php?id=1502&order=0) which described how a Victorian egg producer was raided by activists which left glass from a broken bottle in a row of Gumboots. It is just simply dangerous not only to the farmer but employees and potentially the farmers children, what drives people to do that? There is no reason to try and physically harm a person just because you may disagree with what they do or how they do it, I also wonder how these groups are meant to be taken seriously if they are going to about breaking into farms and booby trapping peoples work wear.  At what point will the line be drawn? How long till someone gets hurt in one of these raids gone wrong or in a trap left by them? And on a very serious note if a activist injured themselves on one of these raids would the farmer be liable?

Again I’m sorry but I couldn’t help myself these activist are just going too far into the extreme zone, next week I go on uni break for two weeks so I’ll be back to work right in the heart of the busy picking season. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some more pictures of the pickers at work and I might even be able get inside  a cotton gin so I can show you all what happens to the cotton once it has left the field.

 

Defoliation

By now most most cotton producers have finished defoliating their crops, so what is defoliation in cotton and how is it done.

Defoliation is the process where leaves are removed from the cotton plant in order to allow for effective picking, as well as lowering the risk of boll rot, it also promotes even plant development and allows for earlier picking. This achieved through the aerial application of a chemical onto crop, the chemical works upsetting the hormone balance in the leaves of the plant causing the abscission process to begin. The abscission process involves creating an imbalance in hormones and enzymes that cause the cell walls to dissolve causing the leaf to fall off, however if too much chemical is applied to the crop the leaf may die before it falls off leaving it stuck to the plant. To minimize this problem defoliants are often applied in two lots with the first application is to remove the upper canopy and the second application to remove the lower canopy.  There are other factors that can affect the how well defoliation works.

Defoliated cotton on the right next to non-defoliated cotton on the left

For defoliation to work effectively a least seventy percent of the cotton bolls should be cracked, there should be no new leaf growth, most of the nitrogen in the plant and soil has been used up and the application needs to be applied on a warm sunny day. If these these conditions are not met it the poor level of defoliation can cause stuck leaves leading to staining of the cotton and high level of trash.

The plane that that is most often used in Australia to apply the defoliants to the crop is the Air Tractor, while this remarkable plane is mainly used in agriculture different versions of them are also used for fighting fires, aerial surveillance and even aerial attack. They use GPS technology to accurately and evenly apply chemicals to the crop, this helps to avoid the overlapping of sprays and excessive chemical usage.

Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below, hopefully if the weather holds out I will be able to write about cotton picking next week and will have some new pictures and video’s to put up as well but until then please enjoy this video I found on YouTube today, it doesn’t involve the spraying of cotton but is still an excellent video. Also if you’ve never visited them please feel free to check out my other sites Farming Photo’s and Cotton Careers’s.

Over And Out

Its been other great season working at Norwood in Moree, we finished the last irrigation on Monday which fitted in well with me finishing up on Friday  So between Monday and Friday it was a mixture of chipping, shed work while flying in the afternoon to build up hours for my licence.

We were chipping because it was a CSIRO plant trial for new varieties of cotton and was surrounded by conventional cotton so neither of them could be sprayed with round up. This means large weeds have been able to grow in the cotton which could damage the cotton picker and  the cotton samples.

The slasher and root cutter was in the shed to have all the blades replaced and the root cutting disks measures and adjusted so they would have the correct overlap allowing them to cut efficiently for the upcoming picking season. This was a slow process made even slower by getting the fork lift bogged, with the heavy rear end and the small tires it made it really easy for the fork lift to fall through the soil causing it to bottom out. A quick tow with the tractor and it was back to work.

Because of all of the rain in the past few weeks we hadn’t been able to do any slashing and the airstrip was becoming over grown along with other some spots. The old tractor had no radio, the only air con was a open door and it struggled to hold the three point linkage at hight but it got the job done and the airstrip cleared.

Now I’m about to start my next challenge; starting university hopefully it’ll go alright but I’ll still be going back to Moree from time to time so I can write about what they’re are doing. In the mean time I’ll be writing about farming issues or other aspects of farming, feel free to leave a comment or check out my other websites Farming Photo’s and Cotton Careers.

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Mustering

We’ve spent the last week out at camp mustering, with reinforcements from others stations sent to give us a hand, two paddocks and five days later we’re back at the homestead and not a day too late, with it pouring down rain all over the station on the first night back. Camp was a great time with early breakfasts in time to see the sunrise and make an early start to cattle work while it was still cool instead of the 50 degrees it was in the middle of the day, during these  times of extreme heat and humidity its important to rest the cattle the men during the middle of the day so nothing or any body gets to hot or stressed leaving us with early mornings and late nights. The cattle are mustered with a chopper and a bike to either the cattle yards or a collection point from which they are walked to yards with a team of horsemen and bikes before being sorted and walked back to their paddocks, it can be a long and stressful but the rewards are worth it. 

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