A recent demonstration of three different models of UAVs, one airplane and two quadcopters with varying capabilities, convinced me that UAVs are here to stay. The technology is too powerful to ignore.
With the Federal Aviation Administration prepared to evaluate comments on a proposed rule for use of small UAVs and prepare a final rule at some point in the future, it seems inevitable that UAVs are going to have an increasing presence in agriculture.
The obvious uses for UAVs in ag are to help farmers, scouts and agronomists get a bird's eye view of a field to pick out differences in growth patterns. It's the first step toward identifying and perhaps correcting factors causing the differences.
From there, the next logical step is to collect and store usable crop data on each field each year. Cloud-based systems are already lining up to offer that service to people who intend to use UAVs extensively.
That prompted me to think. What other things do I wish a UAV could do for me? After all, even lower-priced models still require a decent investment. I want more bang for my buck.
OK, some of these may be tongue- in- cheek. And I haven't checked to see if all these uses would qualify under the proposed rules. But some of them would certainly be cool! Here's my top five 'wish list.'
5. Check on the sheep: It's only a short walk to the pasture, but I'm lazy. If I could launch a drone and view the sheep every afternoon, I would know if they were behaving themselves or not.
4. Monitor my soil judging team: I coach soils this time of year. Are the guys and gals I just sent over to that practice hole really working, or just having a good time. Having a real-time view of what they are up to would be really useful.
3. Bring me a soda: These things can land on a dime. When I'm in the field and hot and thirsty, why couldn't I program one to go to the toolshed, fly in an open door, snatch a bottle of soda pop from the fridge, and deliver it to me?
2. Zap mosquitoes: Rain isn't the only record-setting thing this year in Indiana. I wouldn't care whether the UAV sprayed mosquitoes or zapped the bugs, I would just love to program one to eradicate everyone it saw.
1. Tell me if Heaven is real: Frankly, I already know that it is. I've read Don Piper's book "90 minutes in heaven," soon to be released as a movie this fall. And the FAA might frown on this one. But UAVs could check it out. I visited the Field of Dreams movie site near Dyersville, Iowa, earlier this summer. I wasn't impressed. People show up and play baseball on the field, and there is still corn beyond the outfield. But I don't think Heaven is in that cornfield. It's somewhere else, and a UAV might find a clue or two.