Farm Progress

More farmers are finding jobs for drones on their farms. Mike Pearson tells us about a new decision from the Federal Aviation Administration may push more drones into the skies of rural America.

April 3, 2024

Mike Pearson tells us how drones continue to find uses on farms.

Yamaha was the first to develop a commercialized drone for spraying and scouting but as technology has improved and costs have declined, many other companies are producing drones and the continue to find uses on farms.

Earlier this year, Purdue University found 30 percent of all ag operations utilize drones on farms. The fastest growing use is ag spraying.

Heavy duty drones-- those able to take off with weight of more than 55 pounds offer enough payload to spray between 30-50 acres per hour per drone.

Rules from the Federal Aviation Administration require each drone flown to have an operator and a spotter on hand to keep an eye on the vehicle.

Since 2016, the FAA has had oversight of the drone industry but last week, the rules were modified.

The FAA amended the rule so that agriculture use has an exemption.

HELIO, an American manufacturer of spray capable drones had appealed the single pilot to a single drone rule because they believe efficiency will build when one pilot can fly several drones in one field utilizing what they call swarm technology.

The company has been able to control several drones with one pilot for a few years but it took until now for the FAA to catch up with technology.

Under the new policy, two people-- the pilot and the spotter will be able to fly three drones from a single ground station allowing operators to cover 150 acres per hour.

This will make the process more competitive with ground based application rates.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Mike Pearson, farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

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