BYRON (WIFR) — According to the FAA, there are more people operating drones than registered planes. Now, new technology is helping farmers save time and money when it comes to their crops.
Fly Farm, a local company in Byron, is one of the first of its kind in the Stateline offering agriculture drone scouting. Drones like the ones used by Fly Farm are helping farmers determine if their crops are healthy.
“I had crop scouts and things out here before that were just walking every acre,” says Jeff Jackson, a farmer and owner of Agrithm, “With the drone, we can look at trouble spots in the field and just ground-truth what we see if we do see a plant health problem in the field, whether its bugs, disease, or flooding.”
The owner of Fly Farm, Trevor Hogan, says the pictures his drones take higher resolution images compared to a satellite or manned aircraft. He says the pictures are so clear, you can almost zoom in on an individual plant.
The drones have sensors, along with a camera, taking pictures and stitching them together. Hogan says the pictures can then be turned into interactive maps using another software and the data can be analyzed for farmers.
“You can find problems a lot faster. Also with the sensor in the drone that I’m using, when you compare it with the NDVI algorithm, it shows you where problems are and it’s something you can’t see with your own two eyes,” says Hogan.
Jackson thinks the drone crop scouting technology can help revolutionize the farming industry, saying, “I think it’s going to be economically great from the farmer end, but environmentally I think there’s going to be some great things that we learn from that to minimize the things we’re using out here.”
The drone can scout entire fields in a matter of minutes and have results in one day.
Both Hogan and Jackson believe more farmers will start using drones for agricultural needs as more farmers learn about its benefits.
Using drones for crop scouting also helps monitor trends.