Flying drone and green wheat field

Drones: the future of agriculture

Hamilton County Farm Bureau was one of eight Ohio county Farm Bureaus that earned a County Activities of Excellence award from American Farm Bureau. On the surface, the activity—helping update state and national Farm Bureau policy as it relates to drones—doesn’t sound as though it would be related to farming.

However, a recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers states that the future of drone usage in agriculture could create an industry of $32 billion or more, and that estimate could be conservative.

According to the online investment community site The Motley Fool, DuPont’s investment this past April in the drone company PrecisionHawk was a wise one, noting that the technology’s economic impact in the agricultural realm could surpass $60 billion in the next 10 years.

What is the link between farmers and drones? Precision farming, by air and by land. Already on most farms digital equipment with sensors can scan and record data from the field that farmers can use from planting to harvesting. Precision agriculture also includes the use of GPS, geomapping and satellite imagery to let farmers know exactly what work in what field was done on what day. It includes extensive details about crops in the field, including important items like nutrient management application.

Drones are an extension of that technology, with the ability to grab data quickly with a farm flyover. Now policies updated through the efforts initiated by the Hamilton County Farm Bureau make it so farmers have guidelines to follow so they can be on the cutting edge of this emerging technology.

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Kelli Milligan Stammen is director of publications for the Ohio Farm Bureau.