Contractor expects more farm use for drone technology

A custom applicator who uses a drone predicts the aerial technology will be more common on farms in five years. 

Michael Maguire is a Wisconsin contractor for Iowa City, Iowa based Rantizo, and does custom seeding and spraying for farm fields. He says, “Drones, I think, are going to be more of a mainstay. I think a lot more farmers are going to have that in their shed as a tool.”

Maguire tells Brownfield he expects growth in the use of drone technology, both for farmer applicators with an FAA certification and for contractors like him.

Maguire says the drones are especially useful if seeding or spraying in wet or hard-to-access fields, and he says they have other advantages. “It will maintain the elevation above the canopy of the crop, and it doesn’t run the crop down or rut up the field or compact the field.”

Maguire tells Brownfield right now, drones might not be the lowest cost application for every situation, but with improving battery life and other technology advances, the cost will likely come down. 

Right now, Maguire says battery life on a windy day can be around eight minutes, so for continuous application, he would need around ten batteries and a generator at the application site. 

FAA regulations also require drones to be under 55 pounds at takeoff, which limits the payload to under two liquid gallons and more than two gallons for most seed.

Maguire spoke to Brownfield during a field day with the Farmers of Mill Creek farmer-led watershed group.

Michael Maguire with Rantizo discusses drone use for farmers with Brownfield’s Larry Lee 10-14-20

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