UAVs for field diagnosis

11:00 am

Purdue alumnus and grower Mike Beard acknowledges that he is less technology-savvy than his children — also Purdue alumni — and especially his grandkids, who are Purdue students. But through Extension, Beard has become aware of the benefits of using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in his corn and soybean operation in Clinton County.

During field days at the Purdue Ag Centers this summer, Extension’s Quad Squad, or drone team, demonstrated the ease of use, precision of data and long-term positive impacts of UAVs for producers and ranchers of all ages. Beard, who serves as president of the Indiana Corn Marketing Council, tried his hand at a mid-morning demonstration at Purdue Extension’s corn showcase. He says Extension has responded well to growers’ curiosity statewide: “The people I’ve heard were knowledgeable and did a nice job communicating the values of using a drone.”

Beard’s grandson used drone-produced footage in educational videos for visitors to his Meadow Lane Farms. Beard also uses UAVs to check conditions on his 1,900 acres of crops following weather events. “You can save an awful lot of steps out in the field,” he says. “If the crop image shows it to be healthy, there’s little reason to troop that area. If you have a problem, you get a GPS location and can go directly to it.”

Extension Educators who have become certified to fly UAVs are collecting preliminary data to create case studies that can help develop best practices for producers using UAVs for crop production, animal agriculture, marketing and farm resource management.

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