Alan Smock and the crew at the Dubois County Soil and Water Conservation District took on the project of turning the farmland adjacent to the Vincennes University at Jasper campus into a sort of showcase for conservation practices. Now in its second year, they are making progress on what will be a long-term effort.
VUJC is reaching out to find other ways to help support the SWCD and support agriculture at the same time. On October 3 this week VUJC will host a demonstration of an unmanned aerial flying device made by PrecisionHawk Company, Indianapolis. It’s a small, autonomous aircraft that can be fitted with high-technology sensors to remotely examine crop and field status in nearby areas. Used in other industries including forestry and mining, it’s just now finding a home in agriculture.
A different company - APA Rotor - displayed an unmanned ‘copter’ to do virtually the same tasks at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, ill., in late summer.
This product from PrecisionHawk is 36 inches long, hand-launched and powered by electronic systems. The operator programs in the geographic coordinates of the area he or she wants the aerial device to survey while in the air. This unit uses information supplied to it to determine the best flight path to obtain the requested information.
Data gathered from the imaging flight is available quickly, developers say. Sensors that can be attached include visual technology, thermal and multi-spectral imaging and other sophisticated forms of image capture.
The demonstration is planned to follow a short program explaining details about the device and how the images can be used. It will start at 4 p.m. EDT in the Center for Technology, Innovation and Manufacturing Theater located on the VUJC campus. If weather permits the unit will then be used to fly over the fields owned by VUJC and managed by the Dubois County SWCD. These images could prove useful especially since the site is also being used in an on-going training program for cover crops and no-till operated by the Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative.