"In the not-so-distant future, farmers wanting to scout fields for diseases and pests, spot spray for weeds or obtain 3-D maps of their farm ground will be turning to tiny autonomous helicopters or planes to do the job."
just released an interesting article on the future of drones or small aircraft flying over our fields. Technology is available now to take about every image of crops known to man and even spray or seed cover crops!
I got a tiny bit interested last summer when Donald Effren from North Carolina called me to see if I would be interested in one. I've not taken the time to pursue this venture or adventure in this point in my career but a sharp person could make a living of flying these ultra light ultra small aircraft over farmers fields to help them do the chore of scouting and even seed or spray.
In any new technology, the cost of doing it, that is the labor and investment and training must provide results worth that investment. Human field scouts get a dollar to several dollars per acre to walk fields, report what they find and make recommendations. The information is as valuable as the knowledge of the scout and the amount of potential damage avoided.
"In the future, UAVs could detect, monitor and forecast the spread of fungus-like organisms like Phytophthora or Fusarium that put crops at risk. Since 2008, several researchers and students at Virginia Tech University have been deploying UAVs for “aerobiological sampling” at the university’s 3,200-acre Kentland Farm near Blacksburg, Va."
This is just one small example what these craft could do for farmers. The potential is huge. The advantage I see is quickly obtained information from a personal fly over a field I can't see from ground level as a scout.
Do you see one of these craft flying your fields in the future?