Food securityPrecision agriculture using military technology: drones
Drones are military aircraft currently being repurposed for everyday use, especially within the growing field of precision agriculture; these flying robots allow farmers to detect changes in water content, plant health, and pesticide dispersal in their fields
Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), are military aircraft currently being repurposed for everyday use, especially within the growing field of precision agriculture. These flying robots allow farmers to detect changes in water content, plant health, and pesticide dispersal in their fields.
An Ohio State University release reports that even though the pilot programs are still underway, the Ohio State University Aeronautics and Astronautics Research Laboratory is showcasing this new UAV technology and its impact on the agriculture industry this week at the 2012 Farm Science Review.
“While the military was the early adopter of this technology, the civilian applications in agriculture, search and rescue, and various other tasks is fast approaching,” said Matt McCrink, a Ph.D. student in the Aerospace Engineering Department at Ohio State University and research assistant to Dr. Jim Gregory at the Aeronautic and Astronautics Research Laboratory in Columbus.
Currently, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not allow UAVs to operate in national airspace. The FAA, however, is allowing special certifications for universities and other public institutions to test whether or not UAVs can safely be integrated into national airspace.
“The data gathered in these pilot programs will be instrumental in the development of regulations and commercialization of drone technology, which could significantly impact the cost of crop production” said McCrink.
“In addition, monitoring and recording plant health, water usage, and pesticide dispersal will allow for the creation of a historical database which farmers might use to project future crop yields and soil health.”
This year’s Farm Science Review is being held this week at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, Ohio. Farm Science Review is sponsored by the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. The review attracts more than 140,000 visitors from all over the country and Canada, who come for three days to peruse 4,000 product lines from 600 commercial exhibitors, and learn the latest in agricultural research, conservation, family and nutrition, and gardening and landscape.