Drones: Coming soon to a farm near you! (Chad Colby)

Posted on February 24, 2015 in Forage Foundations

Click here to download Colby’s PowerPoint presentation.

With Chad Colby, AgTechTalk.com
A hot topic in the industry seems to be drones, also called ships and unmanned aerial systems. Chad Colby of AgTechTalk.com explained the importance of this rapidly changing technology at the Vita Plus Custom Harvester Meeting.

“At the end of the day, understanding how drone technology works can be a real challenge,” Colby said.  “Growers are demanding more from every acre,” he continued. “This, along with advances in precision technology, is fueling the data revolution in agriculture.”

The rapid rise of smart phones and tablets has increased the exposure of technology. However, that growth is minimal compared with the growth of drones in our industry, explained Colby.

Advances in technology can be scary. However, drones have a long history and an “unbelievable amount” of opportunity, according to Colby.

In 1849, the first recorded use of drones was documented by the Austrians. Since then, drones were flown in the U.S. Civil War in 1862, used extensively in Vietnam from 1965 through 1973, and able to fly more than 48 hours in 1988.

As of 2012, the U.S. Air Force employed 7,494 unmanned aerial devices. That means one out of three U.S. Air Force aircrafts are drones. Now, in 2015, the U.S. military is prepping a new generation of drones called micro drones.  

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) states hobby or recreational flying doesn’t require FAA approval, but you must follow safety guidelines.

According to Colby, safety is the FAA’s top mission and the agency maintains the world’s safest aviation system. The FAA first authorized use of unmanned aircraft in the National Airspace System (NAS) in 1990.

How does this connect to agriculture? Colby explained we have to learn about the technology of drones so we can educate ourselves and others.

What benefit do drones have to agriculture? Colby cited:

  • Timely decision making
  • Data collection
  • Close monitoring of plant and livestock health
  • Cost savings due to greater precision of inputs

Colby emphasized that using drones comes with a tremendous amount of responsibility.

“Safety is the number one concern,” he said. “You must be aware of your surroundings, practice safe flying techniques and conduct no reckless flying. The operator takes all responsibility.”

Colby said it’s like the Wild West when you begin looking at all the different choices of ships. Countless options and many different types of features are available.

“Buying a drone, isn’t about spending a lot of money,” said Colby. “You do not need to spend more money to get a better drone. It’s not like car shopping.”

For more information, click here visit Colby’s website.

Category: Equipment
Forage Foundations
Technology and data management