U of I Parker Farm hosts Precision Agriculture Field Day with drone demonstration

MOSCOW, ID - We hear a lot of talk about drones these days. Whether they're being used in warfare overseas, or making people nervous about privacy invasion...The term generally carries a negative connotation.

However local agriculture experts said they could become a vital tool in the agriculture industry.

(UAV making buzzing noise)

That distinct buzzing is the sound of a drone.

"Drone has a negative connotation, but that's coming from how it has been used," said U of I Biological and Agricultural Engineering Associate Professor Dev Shrestha.

Drones have somewhat of a bad wrap, but University of Idaho Associate Professor of Engineering Dev Shrestha said they can be a helpful tool for farmers.

"The use of drone in agriculture is perfectly safe and that's where it should be heading," said Shrestha.

Kendrick farmer Robert Blair said he was one of the first farmers to start experimenting with drones back in 2006. Of course, he uses the official term,. unmanned aerial vehicle,. or UAV for short.

"UAV's can help farmers manage their inputs, overlaps, erosion, and help them be better managers, more profitable, and environmentally friendly," said Three Canyon Farms Owner Robert Blair.

He said UAV's can take pictures that help farmers scout their crops as they grow, and they're especially handy for inspecting the rolling hills of the Palouse.

"And so what this allows us to do it see over the hill, especially in rainy season, or in times when you can't get out there, or when the crop is matured enough that you would do more damage driving through it or walking through it," said Blair.

So this is the UAV. As you can see, it's made out of mostly foam, which makes it really light. In fact it only weighs about three pounds.


Blair said these things aren't easy to fly, and it'll be a while before UAV's are used commercially in agriculture.

"You will crash your investment," said Blair.

(plane buzzes and crashes)

"But the biggest challenge is, the FAA doesn't have commercial regulations to fly them," said Blair.

Blair said when the Federal Aviation Administration regulates this technology, more growers will see the potential benefits.

The drone demonstration was all part of a Precision Agriculture Field Day that was hosted on the University of Idaho's Parker Farm Thursday morning.