This article is an extract from the upcoming October/November issue of Position magazine.
Several years ago Chris McFadzean, owner/operator of Epiphany Mapping, took the plunge and purchased a UAS (unmanned aircraft system). The move opened McFadzean up to a world of new opportunities in high-resolution, high-accuracy orthophotography all over New Zealand. And now Chris is working the long, albeit flexible, hours it takes to meet the demand his new business venture has created.
After little more than four years in the orthophotographic business, Chris McFadzean has logged more than 1,500 UAS flights, making him one of the most experienced UAS pilots in the geospatial arena. Chris’s work takes him and his Trimble UX5 Unmanned Aircraft System all over New Zealand, with jobs that comprise one or two flights, or up to several weeks of all-day flying. Averaging between five and 30 flights per week, Chris predominantly orthophotographs farmland. However, he also performs quantity surveying for mines and quarries, contouring, stock piling and erosion monitoring.
Chris grew up on farms located in several different parts of New Zealand, and chose his career out of love for the land. He also comes from a family of innovative problem-solvers, and he combines that entrepreneurial can-do attitude with a desire to be hands-on with technology. So, after selling a company that he co-founded and worked at for 15 years, he decided that orthophotography via UAS was a business initiative that “could work”.
Chris now holds an exclusivity contract with AgHub, which evolved from his previous business, that is now a division of a farmer-owned cooperative called Ballance Agri Nutrients. Ballance is considered to be New Zealand’s largest fertilizer supplier to farmers, while AgHub complements that activity with web-based farm systems software and a premier mapping service. It enables farmers to capture a wealth of information about their operations, of which a key component is an all-inclusive and accurate farm map. That’s where Chris’s business comes in.
The rest of this article will be available in the upcoming October/November issue of Position magazine.