March 07, 2021

UAV uses for your farm: Transforming how you see your fields

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Unmanned aerial vehicles are transforming the ag industry.

Images from UAVs can track changes in crops over time. Farmers can get a bird’s-eye view of their fields and make decisions based on their observations.

“Drones are a great tool,” said Crystal Van Pelt, Purdue Extension educator in Steuben County, during a Purdue Women in Agriculture webinar. “We’re always coming up with new ideas for them.”

Crop uses for UAVs include scouting fields, monitoring growth, documenting problem areas and confirming suspicions, Van Pelt said.

They can be used in livestock operations to locate missing animals, make rotational grazing management decisions and more.

Drones can also be used in natural resources management to monitor woodlands, prairies and ponds.

Farmers considering using UAVs should do their homework before flying.

“Anyone using their UAV for business purposes, even if it’s on your own property, has to be licensed,” Van Pelt said. “So, if you’re going to go out and just fly over your corn fields and you notice a disease or insect damage, you’re making business decisions.

“Legally you have to have the FAA Part 107 license. You have to retake it every two years.”

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Erica Quinlan

Field Editor