Drone in the air© Stephen Daniels

Farmers are finding unexpected ways to use drones on their farms, according to a company that brings in the equipment.

See also: Suffolk farmer battles pigeons with drones

Justin Pringle from Newcastle firm Heliguy was at last week’s Precision Farming Event at Newark with a range of pretty affordable drones, typically with four or six rotors to keep them aloft.

Prices are coming down, he points out, with the latest DJI Phantom quadcopter costing £400 plus another £100 if you want to fit a GoPro camera.

Justin Pringle

Justin Pringle

Farmers are using the drones for all sort of purposes, he adds.

Scaring pigeons is one of the most popular uses, with some people fitting a rape alarm to give extra effectiveness.

Batteries on the alarms only last five minutes but can be extended by fitting a bigger battery.

Farmers using drones for this purpose say that an erratic flight has more effect and fitting a carbon fibre bird-of-prey shape can be effective.

Some farmers are also apparently looking at fitting £10 radio frequency identification tags on sheep and then using a drone to check them.

The tags can be read from a distance of 30m and at speeds of 5-10mph.

As well as using them for monitoring crops, ditches, fences and roofs, some farmers have apparently found them good for checking out potential fly-tippers.

These latest drones can fly for 15-16 minutes, says Mr Pringle and new fitments are coming along like thermal cameras that can see in the dark.