UNMANNED AGRICULTURE

The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, is becoming extremely popular. With the holiday season coming up odds are there will be a lot more of these remote-controlled aircraft taking the skies. Along with this increase will be regulations though. Due to recent incidents of drones coming within an unsafe distance of aircraft and airports, the government and FAA have stepped in. By the start of the New Year, there are plans to put new rules as well as a registration process in place for drone owners and operators.

FAA sign

The Regulations and Farming

You might wonder how this regulation affects you if you don’t even own a drone. Both existing farms and students planning on farming are embracing this new technology to improve their crops. For farmers who use precision agriculture techniques, drones can be an amazing tool. Precision agriculture itself is the improved efficiency of how farms use resources. Everything from seed and fertilizer to fuel and herbicides, all is accounted for and used as efficiently as possible. Drones fit into this because they can be used to scout fields and find problem areas. A high school in Brooksville, FL is offering an opportunity for students to learn how to use drones for this purpose. The students will use the drones to find areas affected by insects, fungus, or drought and report their findings to farm so that they can fix the problem. Knowing exactly where the problem areas are farmers can use the minimum necessary resources. To this end, those who live out in the country might see drones buzzing around their house moving from field to field. Knowing these regulations is a good idea so that you can warn UAV operators if they drive somewhere they shouldn’t be.

Safety

These regulations came about because of safety concerns. The FAA, and a lot of pilots want these drones registered to ensure operators are accountable for their actions. During the wildfires in California, firefighter helicopters were unable to put out a blaze due to drones hovering over burning cars. There have also been two cases over the summer of drones crashing into sporting events. Safety and caution are the utmost importance as these regulations are developed. If you are an operator a general rule of thumb is if your drone is somewhere you aren’t allowed to go, then it should not be there either.

derekDerek DeVries
Illinois State University student