UAVs Make A Landing in Des Moines

The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) is an exciting frontier. Five UAV companies will display their products this year. There are four plane-type UAVs: Ag Eagle, eBee, Trimble and Vireo. There are also three Helicopter-type UAVs: AgriImage UAS, Crop Copter and TopGan Drones.

UAVs are the new form of crop scouting. Equipped with a camera and the correct software on the ground, UAVs give growers and scouters the ability to check the crop health from the air at an efficient rate. Software on the ground can stitch aerial shots into a high-resolution mosaic map that can be used to make better crop management decisions.

UAVs can provide farmers with two types of detailed views. First, seeing a crop from the air can reveal patterns that expose everything from irrigation and fertilizer problems to soil variations and even pest and fungal infestations that are not apparent at eye-level. Second, cameras can take multi-spectral images (infrared and visual spectrum) which can be combined to create a view of the crop that highlights the difference between healthy and distressed plants.

At the 2015 Iowa Power Farming Show, Tom Owen and Nick Mast of Channel Masters, LLC will explore the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in agriculture for improved crop production. Their use in management and what current research is looking at for their long term contribution to crop production will be discussed.

Although there is excitement about the use of UAVs, the legality of flying them is still an issue. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibits the use of all unmanned aircraft for commercial use without the administration’s approval. The FAA has said that it plans to allow commercial UAVs once it has drawn up proper regulations for the aircraft. Rulings may occur in early 2015.The recommendation in the meantime is to educate yourself about UAVs and learn the flight simulator software.

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