Regulations limiting drone potential for farmers

A remote sensing specialist says adoption of drone technology in agriculture has been slower than expected.

In 2013 the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems predicted agriculture would be the industry most impacted by drones. Trevor Witt with Kansas State University Polytechnic says that hasn’t been the case.

“Probably largely because of the regulatory restrictions but then also as people have gotten this technology in their hands they are really finding out where it is limited.”

He tells Brownfield the initial excitement about drone technology is over and he thinks regulations will need to be more flexible in order to benefit farmers.

“Flying drones regularly, beyond our line of site, with multiple drones under one operator and flying heavier ones to apply chemical and things like that. Those are all speed bumps to get through, but I would say within the next five years or so we will see those regular operations start taking off.”

Witt is collecting drone use surveys from farmers and ag businesses as part of the Drone Uses for Agriculture Roadshow funded by the National Science Foundation’s Midwest Big Data Hub: Digital Agriculture Spoke. The roadshow visits 7 states including Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa.

Brownfield interviewed Witt at the 2019 InfoAg Conference in St. Louis, Missouri.

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