Drones expected to help farmers - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Drones expected to help farmers

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TIFTON, GA (WALB) -

The Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International displayed drones at the University of Georgia's Tifton campus Thursday to show just how helpful drones can be on a farm.

By 2015 they plan to have affordable Unmanned Aircrafts in U.S. farms to detect problems like disease, water levels and poor soil health.

Cameras and other technology are attached to the drones so farmers can more quickly and easily observe their crops.

"If we can find those plants that are sick and handle them, then the whole rest of the crop will be much more healthy. The healthier your crop is, the higher your yield is, and the more money farmers can make," said Michael Kennedy, President of the Atlanta Chapter of AUVSI.

One South Georgia farmer said he's been looking in to use this type of technology on his crops for years.

"Most of my crops are arrogated, so we have plugged up sprinklers, for example. We don't really know about it until it's too late and we could fly these fields in thirty minutes and catch it while it's flying, and know exactly where the problems are, because you can spot everything from the air," said Lanny Fenster, a South Georgia Farmer.

The United States isn't the first to use this type of aircraft for farming. They're very popular in countries like Japan and Costa Rica, where they've been utilized for several years.

"Once we find out the right way to get over these regulatory burdens, we can see this technology becoming huge in the United States as well," said Kennedy.

Research organizations are finding ways to decrease the costs for farmers, so they can increase the amount of money they make.

They say the technology is there but it's not being used yet and can make farming tasks safer.

"It's going to be the next big thing in my opinion. The ability to see the crop from the air and analyze where the problems are and correct them before they become a disastrous problem," said Fenster.

Right now only certain universities have been approved to use the drones in the U.S.

Once the FAA changes regulations to allow unmanned aircraft in the U.S., the technology promises the hope for farmers to safely grow healthier and larger crops.

The FAA has been mandated by congress to integrate the unmanned aircraft for agriculture by September 30th 2015.

Farmers are encouraged to attend next year's conference at the UGA Tifton Campus in February before the growing season begins.

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