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Drones Make Next Generation Impact on Farming

It sounds like a giant bumblebee, the 2-foot-square drone whirring to life. Its four props lift it off the ground outside Bruce Bowsher’s house and once it’s about 4 feet in the air, they lift up to give a camera an unobstructed 360-degree view.

Bowsher controls his from an iPad attached to a remote control with two joysticks on it. A tug on one and a push on the other, and his practiced hands can maneuver the drone in a smooth figure eight.

The camera gives him a drone’s-eye view and a map on the iPad screen shows where the drone is headed.

“I could just sit right here in my living room … and fly it downtown,” Bowsher said later, if his pilot’s sense didn’t keep him from being so foolish.

Bowsher, owner of Eagle’s View Aerial Photography, is among a growing number of drone pilots certified by the Federal Aviation Administration to operate commercially. As regulations permit more and more drone businesses to start up, he’s begun forays into agriculture-related aerial photography, where recent technological advances are allowing drones to be used to gauge crop health as well as record photos and video.

New rules issued last summer by the FAA allow anyone at least 16 years old to earn a “remote pilot certificate” to fly drones for commercial use. The process involves passing a test on aeronautical safety and a background check.

That’s a far cry from the process Bowsher went through as one of the nation’s first 1,000 commercial drone operators nearly two years ago. Continue reading about aerial agriculture.



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