June 29, 2017
Drones Are Coming -- To Help Manage Your Farm

Drones have been a big buzzword in recent years, with rumors of government drones coming to peek into the backyards of citizens, and vigilantes threatening to shoot drones from the sky on sight. However, we've also heard a lot about possible practical implementations of drones in the private sector, and for non-invasive government use, like mail delivery. Now, it seems that one of the first widespread uses of drones by private citizens and commercial ventures may be to reduce the cost and effort of bringing healthy food to your table.

Drone Watchdogs reports that this is an interesting aspect of drones for many farmers. Drones could be used to monitor crops over a large area, and perhaps cheaply replace crop dusters. They'd be able to cover the same ground as a helicopter or small plane, but at a lower cost.

The biggest hurdle, according to PrecisionHawk communications director Lia Reich, is misinformation.

Many people still think of drones as spying, killing, sneaking machines, government-operated robots to rob citizens of their privacy and autonomy. As long as there's a fear attached to the word "drones," bans and limitations will be a problem.

According to the Augusta Chronicle, over 150 bills have been proposed in the last year alone, centered around regulating where drones can go and what they can do.

In fact, according to the Star Tribune, regulations may be one of the biggest difficulties farmers who hope to purchase drones for their crops will face.

Specifically, the current FAA regulations make it illegal for most farmers to operate drones. Current regulations for safety and privacy make drones a touchy subject in many places. However, this is a matter in progress. Farmers and FAA officials are working together right now to ensure that new regulations will allow drones to be used to monitor crops, without invading the privacy of neighbors.

Still, once the details are sorted out, the possibilities are pretty exciting. Farmers say they could replace daily walks of their entire fields with a fly-over, and drones can transfer data directly to a tablet computer, so the information can be seen while drones are still in-flight.

Some farms may purchase their own drones for use on their land, and others may hire businesses that will surface to run drones for them for a fee, simply turning over the information on a daily basis.

If America can get past the fear of drones, these machines may soon make a difference in your grocery dollar.

[Photo by:Sean Gallup/Getty Images]