Precision drone sprayers see fast adoption

A Midwest farmer says growers are quickly investing in precision drone applicators to reduce inputs and wait times for commercial applicators.

Danny Assman farms in western Iowa near the Nebraska border. He started Iowa Aerial Applicators less than two years ago to help offset his own drone licensing fees.

“It’s expanded rapidly,” he shares.  “Currently, we service Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, as well as Missouri. We’re working our way east.”

He tells Brownfield the sprayers are best used to reduce applications of fungicides and insecticides by spraying only specific parts of fields.

“Think low rate, two gallon per acre type of things,” he says.

Assman says his custom applicator business has also morphed into sales and service of equipment for farmers who want to manage their own fields.

“Once you factor out the cost of the drone, if you strip your labor away and you’re just talking what it’s costing to run, your cost is about a dollar an acre,” he shares.   “It changes the game on multiple applications. When we do custom application, we’re going to charge anywhere from $10 to $20 an acre.”

Assman says the brands he sells average between $30-$50,000 per drone and should pay for themselves in about three years.

Brownfield interviewed Assman during the recent Consus Grain Marketing and Risk Management Event.

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