Lucas Lentsch, South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture, sees some agricultural uses for unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, beyond monitoring crops and livestock.
UAVs could also play an important role in managing grasslands and forest, and provide an extra measure of fire safety, he told the Yankton Press and Dakotan.
"Our Division of Wildland Fire sees it as a potential means for reconnaissance, identifying hot spots and mapping wild land fires while enhancing the safety of our firefighters and reducing the cost of fighting fires," he said.
"Potential uses in our Resource Conservation & Forestry Division include assessing mountain pine beetle damage or scouting for the presence of threatened or endangered species."
Drones might also generate some economic activity.
"The uses for this tool are impressive, but the possible economic growth is appealing as well," he said. "A recent report published by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems stated total UAV spending in the agriculture sector in South Dakota could be more than $1.4 million in 2015."
The report, The Economic Impact of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in the United States, Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems March 2013, can be found at http://www.auvsi.org/econreport.
For the study, input -output software estimated the direct, indirect, induced and total effects of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) integration on the economy of the state of Arizona, Lentsch said.
"Because of the unique nature of manufacturing UAS and the specialized type of workers required, specific project payroll, parts and taxes for agriculture and public safety were provided," he said. "They then used this to modify the existing model for the rest of the states." Read more in the Yankton Press and Dakotan.
Source: Yankton Press and Dakotan