Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Getting Started

Getting Started

To get started, it normally takes an initial investment of around $2,000 for a professional UAV, camera and landing pad. You will also need an FAA certificate to fly a UAV for commercial use.

Here’s a checklist to get you started.

The FAA views all UAV activity featured on this site as commercial operation, so know the requirements and state laws.

You don’t need any previous experience to become a certified pilot, but you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Proficient in English
  • Pass a TSA background check
  • Pass a written aeronautical knowledge exam at an FAA-approved testing center
  • Pass a recurring test every 24 months

Determine goals that align with your farm management strategies.

It is always important to first decide what the needs are for your operation before purchasing a UAV, selecting your camera, or even planning your flight.

Purchase a drone.

Drone systems range anywhere from $800 to $25,000 and come in fixed-wing or multi-rotor options. Fixed-wing UAVs are the best choice when covering a lot of ground quickly. However, image quality can suffer due to speed. Multi-rotor UAVs give you more control and are the best option for accuracy and resolution. On the downside, most multi-rotor UAVs require a charge or battery swap every 50 acres.

The FAA requires you to register your UAV under “part 107” and label your aircraft with a registration number.

Download flight-planning software.

 Depending on the UAV, you will need to download the proper software to plan your flights. Here are a few free options.


How much you need depends on the drone, location and industry.