LONDON, Ohio — Drones may be the farmer’s next line of defense when it comes to managing problems in the fields.
Two drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, were demonstrated at the Farm Science Review; one was developed by an Ohio State graduate student, and the other is a product of Precision Drone, an Indiana-based company that manufactures drones for agricultural uses.
According to Aaron Sheller, co-owner of Precision Drone, the Federal Aviation Administration does not currently allow the flying machines to be used for commercial ventures without the proper permits.
However, farmers can use the drones as a hobby to patrol their fields.
Sheller said he came up with the idea for drones after returning home from college. One thing he hated, he said, was walking his fields in July at his farm in central Indiana. He and business partner Matt Minnes came up with the idea of having something fly over their fields to take pictures, allowing the partners to get a bird’s-eye-view.
Now, the drones are available for farmers to purchase as a hobby only.
The technology is brand new and the hope is that farmers will be able to use it to find compaction problems, nitrogen deficiencies and irrigation issues.
Meanwhile, Ohio State University is working on a project with drones, so that the FAA can determine future regulations. As part of the research, OSU is building a drone to find out what uses are possible with them and what security and safety concerns they could pose.
Matt McCrink, a Ph.D. student in the aerospace engineering department at OSU, is working on the project as part of his doctoral dissertation.
McCrink hopes his research will allow more farmers access to drones, which will provide images of crops and allow farmers to make the management decisions they need.