NACC has undertaken a project in conjunction with Edith Cowan University aimed at estimating the amount of beach wrack that washes up onto Geraldton Beaches. The pilot was done using the latest technology of Unmanned Ariel Vehicle /UAV (sometimes referred to as Drones) to collect this data against GPS coordinates, using a multi-rotor, vertical take off and landing system with two different cameras. Beach wrack, otherwise known as seaweed, and other vegetation that washes onto the shoreline is an important component of coastal ecosystems.
It releases nutrients back into the system as it breaks down, acts as a food source for invertebrates that are in turn are an important food source for young fish and provide beaches with a measure of protection against erosion NACC commissioned Geraldton aerial video and monitoring specialists New Era Ag-Tech to pilot capturing video footage from which wrack deposition on local beaches can be calculated. The pilot took place in January in which New Era Ag-Tech recorded video footage across three sampling flight transects including Southgates Beach to Separation Point, Separation Point to Pages Beach and St George’s Beach to Drummond Cove.
From this footage wrack deposition is calculated along the shoreline. If the pilot is deemed successful, NACC and New Era Ag-Tech intend to continue to monitor the beaches across the same transects over the next 10 months, providing invaluable data of the movement of wrack onto Geraldton beaches to the nearest 2 centimetres. Using Special gimbals (the anti-shudder levelling equipment) on the UAVs, hold the cameras in place and steady against the Geraldton winds to ensure the bet footage. Ag-Tech were delighted to use their technology to benefit shoreline conservation in partnership with NACC, and would look forward to working on more conservation projects in the future. Ag-Tech is fully licensed by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and has been pioneering the use of UAV monitoring in WA’s broad acre farming industry over the last 18 months.