Old MacDonald had a drone: the case for legalizing drones in farming

By Sacha Marie

We’ve all seen or read comparisons of drones like the Phantom 3 vs Phantom 2, arguments for GoPros vs built-in cameras, or the trending uses for drones such as wedding photography. While it’s all very much relevant, environmental uses for drones are becoming more prominent; specifically in farming.

A drone flies over vineyards of the Pape Clement castle, belonging to Bordeaux winemaker Bernard Magrez in the soutwestern French town of Pessac. JEAN PIERRE MULLER/AFP/Getty Images

A drone flies over vineyards of the Pape Clement castle, belonging to Bordeaux winemaker Bernard Magrez in the soutwestern French town of Pessac. JEAN PIERRE MULLER/AFP/Getty Images

The software

Farmers are starting to use drones for monitoring crops and using them to detect and prevent problems. Drones give farmers the ability to gain immediate knowledge about their fields, minimizing time needed to sort the problem then fix it.

Drones have become more specific to agriculture, coming with various types of sensors for temperature, plant surveillance, even water quality assessments.

What’s new?

The development for these types of drones have advanced, coming out with precision drones specifically for farming. Like their DJI counterparts, these drones will be able to be equipped with different cameras for different sensors.

The idea behind having advanced sensors is that it will give farmers the ability to increase productivity and reduce crop damage. Drones have the ability to see what farmers can’t, and they can do work at a faster rate. It also gives farmers the ability to be specific and pinpoint problems instead of having to treat the entire crop.

However recent updates will have sensors built into the drones themselves. Agricultural specific drones will also have sensors to track and keep stats on livestock, much like the drones being used to help track wildlife and prevent poaching.

The future for farmers

Agriculture is a prominent field, with technologies that are going to help make supplies more sustainable for a growing world. Drones can help give accurate results and collect data not otherwise able to collect through manual work. So, while technology is catching up to the needs of agriculture workers, the FAA rules and regulations are just barely getting there.

Commercial uses for drones in gathering information are still against the rules and regulations, unless you apply for exemptions, and even then the exemptions come with heavy guidelines. Basically, use of these types of drones is no longer ‘illegal’, but gaining an exemption is a hefty process. Unfortunately, this leaves farmers little options for using drones unless they’re approved. It’s asking our agricultural workers to put progress on hold and stay in the past.

Where do you see the future of drones in agriculture and farming going? What are your thoughts on the FAA’s stance on these drones? And how do you think it could improve?

Leave a Comment

  • Sandel says:

    There will always be some sort of opposition against individual freedom of knowledge and autonomy.

    Let me explain, from the farming point of view and how drones get in the way of making money:
    A farmer buys/builds a drone. He flies it over and only over his property. Being able to see things from above, your own property, is great power and for that one had to ask permissions, pay lots of money to the local airspace regulators, some company with a manned aircraft and equipment to take images, a pilot and so on. That’s a lot of money going into several pockets.

    Also, being able to scout your land, your farm, means you need less help from hired hands that would’ve, otherwise, scouted the land for you. (Against trespassers – a security company, against neighbour’s cows getting on your corn, and so on.)

    Crop dusting done by drone instead of manned aircraft?
    Unless the drone is rented (with pilot) for a _hefty_ fee, it is right outraging to those hat have pest control businesses.

    Many are pissed because mere civilians, even peasants, have access and are able to use devices previously reserved for the military and police. Ant many of those many are lobbyists and they are threatening and bribing whomever could decide that drones should not be in the hands of civilians.

  • In fact when someone doesn’t understand then its up to other people that they will help, so here it takes place.

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