If you've seen the movie Looper, you'll remember the scene above, showing what appears to be a drone crop sprayer. I think agricultural uses of UAVs will be one of the most interesting commercial markets, so this post lists a few suggested starting places and resources for people who want to follow this sector. 

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Comment by Michael on March 19, 2013 at 1:20pm

Is 3DR working on agricultural drone because this is what I found on CNBC "Mr. Anderson, in contrast, said that later this year, his company would introduce a helicopter for agricultural surveillance that would sell for less than $1,000. "That's not per hour, that's for the helicopter," he said."

Comment by Troy Reabe on March 19, 2013 at 1:40pm

I can see the use for agricultural surveillance but I don't see this getting into NAAA http://www.agaviation.org/ any time soon. the payloads and department of AG restrictions I see holding this back for quite some time.

Comment by Joshua Ott on March 19, 2013 at 1:47pm

Troy,

I agree. The monitoring aspect will hopefully reduce most of the spraying, and therefore become the primary use of aerial AG-bots.

Comment by Joshua Ott on March 19, 2013 at 2:07pm

Troy,

I just saw on your profile page that come from a family of crop-dusters, I didn't mean to be flippant with the above remark about reducing spraying :-)

I love watching the crop-dusters work, but I hate the chemicals. 

Comment by Troy Reabe on March 19, 2013 at 2:17pm

Joshua

I know that monitoring can help reduce and pin point the use of spraying for specific problems. But for Potatoes or Cranberries there will be the frequent treatment for prevention of problems. Sometimes there is no cure for a problem only prevention, so you need to spray to prevent crop loss. Also in corn the use of quadris fungicide has been found to not only prevent crop loss but when applied at the correct time produces a 10% increase in yield.

I have had to do the task of taking pictures of the fields for the farmers to look at, and I would like it if I could just send a drone to do that job. But we would need a way to keep everyone safe when I come in with the crop duster too.

I know that the farmers would love to have daily or weekly updates on their fields but the drone will need a way to communicate with the crop duster so the two don’t meet. And the crop dusters are appropriately named AirTractors, there is not much on board for gadgets. They don’t need any radios in them at all. So this makes communication with a drone quite difficult. If there is a person around operating the drone they can tell the drone to come home when a duster is in the area but the farmers would much rather just launch the drone and come back later and recover the drone and images without needing to babysit it.

 

Comment by Troy Reabe on March 19, 2013 at 2:27pm

Joshua

I would agree about loving the planes and hating the chemicals.

I can say that over the past 40 years what we work with is getting better.

I can also say that per acre the farm fields work with less chemicals then golf cources and many homes. what makes the chemicals a possable proble for us is the volume of work. One plane can treat over 1000 acers in a day, that is a lot of chemical but it is also thinly applied. Something that is nasty like Asana XL from DuPont is applied at 6 to 10 Ounces per acre. There is also alot to be said about drift control, and propper application.

Comment by Josh Potter on March 19, 2013 at 3:25pm

Troy,


I don't see the NAAA liking this technology at all, it's a threat.  I think they'll go the way of ITU.

Comment by kyle olason on March 21, 2013 at 11:00am
I can say that no where in the near future will drone spray planes be allowed. As a holder of a private applicator license for farm use in ND, it wouldn't be allowed. Drift is a major concern, how would it be able to tell when the drift is too much. Ground applying is almost done by drone with autosteer and auto boom shutoff.

I like the image capture idea. I want to do that on our farm. Our spread is over 30 miles and time wise a done could launch from a station out there and send the data back.

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