Farmers at Precision Agriculture summit learn about UAS

By Ann Bailey | January 21, 2016

Though regulatory work and improvements remain to be made before farmers UAS easily can incorporated into their operations, they still are eager to learn about them, judging by attendance at UAS sessions at Jamestown, N.D. precision agriculture summit.

About 250 farmers and other men and women with an interest in UAS gathered at the Fifth Annual Precision Agriculture Summit on Jan. 19 to listen to sessions about rules for operating and options for using the unmanned aircraft. The two-day summit, sponsored by the Red River Valley Research Corridor, featured precision agriculture experts who shared information about precision agriculture topics including data collection and UAS.

One of the main advantages of using a UAS to gather images is that a crop problem can be captured and then remedied within hours, said Nate Dorsey, RDO product specialist supervisor. Another advantage of the sense Flly ebee which RDO sells is that it has a battery life of 40 to 50 minutes, Dorsey said.

“It’s a very light, capable aircraft,” he said. And though the aircraft is light, it is extremely well-engineered, Dorsey said.

“We’ve had a lot of success with this drone… There’s a lot of potential with these,” he said.

Research shows that UAS were the No. 1 gift framers received for Christmas,” said Kris Poulson, Minneapolis-based Sentera agriculture division vice president. Projections were that 45,000 UAS would be given as gifts to farmers, Poulson said.

Though, the unmanned aircraft can be used to gather images, they don’t replace ground surveying, Poulson said.

“It still requires boots on the ground.”

Peterson Farms Seed, Harwood, N.D., operates fixed wing UAS, including the Kansas-developed AgEagle, and multi-rotor UAS for on-farm research. The seed farm uses the images they gather in conjunction with information they gather on the ground to conduct the resarch, said Nolan Berg, Peterson Farms Seed UAS manager. 

Farmers who have 333 exemptions need to remember that while they can capture images from UAS for their own farms, they cannot gather them from their neighbor’s farm, Paul Gunderson, of the Dakota Precision Agriculture Center reminded farmers. Farmers also should take care not to let anyone have access to the images they collect and data they generate, he advised.

“Make certain you are protecting your data,” Gunderson said.