You are here
Drones: Part of your precision ag plans?
Learning about drones in ag
Successful Farming magazine and the Machinery Show are gearing up to cover a topic that has gained a lot of momentum in ag recently. . . drones.
Flying a rotary-wing unit
This past week we traveled to Iowa State University to meet Rory Paul, Volt Aerial Robotics. Paul has been a proponent of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) for use in ag for nearly a decade.
Kansas State University research
For over a year, Kansas State's Dr. Kevin Price, along with Dr. Deon van der Merwe have been collaborating to explore how unmanned technology can play a role in ag missions.
They have uncovered a wide range of uses with the help of two units: a RiteWing Zephyr II (shown) and a DJI S800 Spreading Wings hexacopter.
One of the main concerns about this technology is safety. Dr. Price stresses that anyone interested in flying a UAS should first become familiar with the technology by using a flight simulator software.
Pictured is Master's student, Huan Wang, who is studying agronomy.
Find a buddy
The University also has incorporated a buddy box system to train flyers, which allows a "co-pilot" to take over should the pilot run into problems.
Deciphering the data
The small UAS is equipped with a still visible camera that measures visible and near infrared light. A flight plan is programmed into the computer and an operator puts the device into flight.
After the flight, the remotely sensed images are downloaded to a computer for display and image processing.
Farmer takes flight
Roger Brining (right), who farms in Great Bend, Kansas, recently invested in a fixed-wing unit - the RiteWing Zephyr XL. What intrigued him about this technology is its incredible flexibility, speed, and low cost for flights combined with a very high-resolution final product.
Despite the potential value UAS bring to agriculture, there are still challenges to navigate. Their use falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It is in the process of developing rules and a plan for commercial use of UAS in national airspace by 2015, which is currently strictly prohibited.
What are your thoughts?
What are your thoughts on small unmanned aerial systems for use in agriculture? Join the discussion here: Precision Agriculture Talk.
Will drones be a part of your precision agriculture plan?