(Posted Wed. Mar 25th, 2015)
Unmanned Aerial Systems will make farming more efficient, lower operating costs, and reduce their environmental impact, NCGA Manager of Public Policy Clint Raine told a group of policymakers and reporters today during a panel about the applications of UAS technology to the agricultural industry.
“I’m optimistic about the possibilities for UAS technology and what it could mean for farmers,” said Raine. “These devices will make farms more efficient and sustainable. Lowering the costs and environmental impact of farming is good not only for farmers, but also consumers.”
While unmanned aerial systems have many commercial applications, they are expected to have the greatest impact on the agriculture industry – by one estimate, adding more than $75 billion to the economy by 2025. UAS are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration, and are currently banned for commercial use. NCGA and other agricultural organizations hope to see that changed.
“If this technology were available for commercial use, some immediate applications include livestock monitoring, crop scouting and field mapping. Being able to use UAS for any of these jobs would increase efficiency on farms and provide instant feedback to the farmer,” said Raine.
Potential uses of UAS technology include early detection of pest infestation, crop disease, poor soil health, irrigation levels, and overall crop health. In these areas, UAS can save farmers time and money. In crop scouting alone, time needed to study individual fields will decrease exponentially.
“As an example, it might take a farmer an hour to scout a 10-acre field on foot, but when you are able to put a UAS in the air, you can cut that time down to 10 to 15 minutes.”
The panel was moderated by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.