How Could Kentucky Farmers Use Drones?

May 13, 2015

Credit Author: Dkroetsch, via Wikimedia Commons

The Federal Aviation Administration has approved a drone large enough to carry and spray fertilizers and pesticides on crops, but a Kentucky crop duster says it’s unlikely farmers here will use them.

Rick Houston of Houston Ag Flying Services in Owensboro says the drone would need to carry 2,000 to 25-hundred pounds of fertilizer or pesticide to be useful. He also says discerning with a drone where wind would take the excess liquid could be difficult when close to people or waterways.

“Flying an airplane is the easy part of the crop dusting,” he said. “The hard part is thinking about the general public and thinking about where this material is going.”

Hopkins County Extension Agent Curtis Dame says using drones for crop dusting might be more beneficial for orchards or vineyards. He does say they can be helpful for monitoring livestock especially during heavy snows like those this winter.

“They could have used it to find cattle that were out in the snow that were hard to find otherwise, especially with the deeper snows that we had,” he said. “So that could have led to saved cattle or calves. Say a farmer lost three or four of those that’s easily $5,000 at today’s prices.”

Dame says the approved drone for fertilizers and pesticides would be more beneficial in vineyards and orchards instead of large row crop fields.