Scouting fields on foot may someday be a thing of the past. Soon- perhaps sooner than we think- UAV's (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), otherwise known as drones, may be doing our scouting for us.
Over the last couple of years, interest in UAV use in agriculture has, one might say, taken off. Incredible interest has developed in these small, mobile, aerial vehicles that have the capacity to take high quality photos and videos of fields from above, providing an altogether different perspective than is able to be achieved from the ground. From these higher vantage points, farmers are quickly able to discern areas of disease, drought, and insect pressure in their fields. This in turn allows them to create a much more accurate irrigation and pesticide application plan than they are capable of doing from traditional scouting reports, something that is better for the environment and for costs. Some hope, too, that before long UAV's will be utilized in the pesticide application process itself, providing pin-point accurate applications in the field while keeping humans safely out of the application zone.
Currently, various government agencies are working alongside local farmers and UAV manufacturers to develop regulations that will clarify just what the role of UAV's in agriculture is to be. Opponents of their use cite privacy invasion as the main reason for disallowing UAV's. Proponents argue that the potential revenue to be derived from implementing UAV's is too much to pass up, and that foreign countries are already leaps-and-bounds ahead of the U.S. in utilizing this helpful technology.
Our perspective here at TH is that UAV's will soon become standard features in our precision ag era. As a way to get a jump on this up-and-coming technology we recently invested in a small UAV that we will be doing trial work with this upcoming season. We will be keeping you posted throughout the year on our progress and invite you to submit any questions you may have about UAV's and their place in your programs.