Are Drones the Next Big Thing in Agriculture?

Tractors, fields, storage silos and barns are common sights in rural farming communities. In the coming years you might have to add agricultural drones to that list.

While your more likely to hear about a drone hovering over a battlefield than a cornfield, some tech entrepreneurs would like to change that. Major UAV research investments by Google, Amazon, and Walt Disney seem to signal that this is an industry ready to explode.

Drones are still the subject of intense public debate. People fear drones will displace good paying jobs. Additionally, privacy and property rights are central to the drone discussion. Drone manufactures fear over-regulation could stifle innovation.

Precision Agriculture

Innovative farmers see drones as a high tech opportunity to cut cost and increase production. This idea is coming nearer to reality all the time. Consumer drones are coming down in cost and easier to fly. Additionally, new features are constantly being developed to bring value more value to farmers.

Agricultural drones are used to survey crops and land. They can be programmed to fly over a selected property collecting photos, video, and data which is pieced together to analyze the the potential harvest or health of plants. They can count plants and identity potential problems.

The next generation of drones will be able to scan for pests and crop dust select areas. Additionally, drones will be able to land and take soil and water samples.

Legal Issues

Fearing FAA fines and regulations UAV manufactures have moved outside the United States to operate.
Fearing FAA fines and regulations UAV manufactures have moved outside the United States to operate.

Drone manufactures are already facing legal issues in the United States. Currently, drones are illegal for commercial activities. They can only be legally deployed for research and recreational usage. Drone companies, such as Precision Hawk, have had to look outside the United States to improve their technology.

Drones have been restricted by the FAA due to their lack of regulation. Rule makers are now feeling the pressure to lift the ban, since the drone manufacturing is estimated to be an 80 billion dollar industry. It is expected that the restrictions will be lifted once the FAA puts new rules in effect.

Precision Hawk

Precision Hawk is drone manufacturer with offices in Indiana (Noblesville) , Toronto, and Raleigh. They produce a flexible UAV platform that is well suited for diverse commercial applications.

Precision Hawk equips it’s drones with visual, thermal, hyperspectral, and LiDar sensors. Thermal sensors can be used for livestock detection, water temperature detection, and water source identification. Additionally, thermal equipped drones could be useful for emergency response.  LiDar can be used for 3D terrain mapping and measuring plant height.

Due to current laws Precision Hawk must operate its drones outside the United States. But despite these setbacks they have continued to attract investors who want to take part in this gorwing industry. Beyond agribusiness, Precision Hawk sees their products transforming  the forestry, geology, oceanography, and insurance industries.

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