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Droning On: How Drones Could Remove The Tedious Work Of Farmers, Increase Profits, And Reduce Costs

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A million dollar contest helped spur an engineer to develop a drone capable of planting nearly 1 billion trees per year. Now, the same technology that once helped the U.S. military in the Middle East turns its focus to the agricultural fields of the U.S.

Helping Farmers

While Congress works out the finer details of legislation regarding the use of drones over private property and airspace, several companies are finishing the final touches on the small air-borne machines.

The drones come with the ability to fly autonomously through pre-programmed routes, within the confines of a designated boundary, or by the hands of a farmer wanting to check on a specific crop. And while they buzz above rows and acres of crops, they can collect data and transmit it back to the farmers.

One way they do this is by taking thousands of pictures and stitching them together to give farmers a view of their entire crop. Some even include information regarding the amount of sunlight areas are receiving.

Decreasing Costs and Increasing Profits

In the sunny vineyards of California, some farmers are employing drones to monitor their fields and relay videos and images back to computers sitting in air conditioned rooms. These images help farmers determine which patches of grapes are ready for harvesting, giving farmers the chance to pick them at their ripest.

However, the drones not only help farmers pick food at its best state for increased profits but also help them reduce costs. For farmers, especially those who manage organic farms, this cuts down on the amount of walking and inspecting that happens on a daily basis. It grants farmers more time to manage the crops that need the most attention and can even cut down on the amount of pesticides needed — if any at all.

Working Out the Kinks

One of the major drawbacks to drone use right now are many of the laws, some sponsored by the FAA, which prohibit the use drones over public and private land. However, many of the rules wouldn't apply to farmers as they limit drones to weights lower than 55 pounds and heights not greater than 500 feet — all of which should work for farmers.

Additionally, many of these rules apply more for the personal use of drones within city limits and are meant to reduce the capability of individuals, corporations, and government officials from using them to invade the privacy of others.

If you're a farmer interested in agriculture drones for sale, contact a local agriculture supply store.

 

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25 May 2015