Dr Javier Leon, University of the Sunshine Coast
Dr Javier Leon is a geographer with research interests in the study and management of landscapes under a changing climate context. He is a world-leading researcher in the application and analysis of drone-derived data. He has developed and collaborated in multidisciplinary research projects combining field data and geospatial techniques in study sites across Australia, the Pacific islands and Peru. More recently he has designed, implemented and collaborated in citizen science programs including monitoring seagrass meadows using drones, monitoring restoration of dunes with native vegetation and monitoring shoreline change using crowd-sourced mobile devices.
The Australian pineapple fresh sector has expanded considerably over the last 15 years due mainly to the adoption of better fresh market varieties and improved quality. The best soils for pineapple production are non-compacted, well-aerated and free-draining loams, sandy loams and clay loams with no heavy clay or rock within one metre of the surface. However, soil erosion is a big issue negatively affecting pineapple growers and water quality throughout the catchment. Farmers on the Sunshine Coast have been embracing new methods of controlling soil erosion, including the application of a heavy duty and robust polymer emulsion. This presentation will outline the application of drones and novel image analysis techniques to mapping and monitoring soil erosion at very detailed spatial and frequent temporal scales. Surveys were undertaken approximately monthly with a survey-grade drone over different plots with different polymer treatments. Erosion pins and RTK GPS control points were used as ground reference data. Preliminary results show that drone surveys can achieve a vertical accuracy of ~2 cm and detect changes in elevation between surveys of ~4 cm with a 95% confidence level. A maximum erosion of 15 mm (bed) and accretion of 35 mm (furrow) has been observed using the erosion pins since the start of the surveys. This is attributed to the notable below-average-rainfall conditions over the last 2 years.