The use of drones in agriculture is gaining in popularity. Drone farming is a tool that can lead to more accurate and timely crop production decisions. The level of education and understanding in how to treat a crop is paramount from the air. After all, a bird’s eye view of your fields is the quickest way to see and interpret if you need to take action in your production strategies.
If you’re considering purchasing a drone for your farming operation, please be aware that it needs to be registered. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently announced that owners are required to register their drones or unmanned aircraft system (UAS) in order to fly them. Below are a few guidelines.
All drones weighing between .55 and 55 pounds must be registered. Larger drones may require registration by mail.
Your drone must be registered even if it is only flown on private property.
You must have your certificate of registration with you at all times when flying your drone.
Failure to register your drone could result in civil penalties up to $27,500, criminal penalties and fines of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment of up to three years.
If you’re a baseball fan….you know that the only way to score is by rounding the bases. You need to rely on your coaches and work as a team. Farm profitability is very similar.
4 Components of Farm Profitability
Let’s say you are up to bat at home base….we’ll consider that production. It all starts here….where you have the most control….focused on preparing the field, planting the right seed at the correct depth and nurturing it through the growing season.
Let’s compare first base to crop insurance….protecting your investment to secure revenue and provide peace of mind.
Back in October, I was flying high after purchasing a drone for use at Corn Capital Innovations. Just like a kid on Christmas, I was excited to play with my new toy! But our drone is much more than just something shiny to fly around, it serves two important purposes to our business.
It’s a great tool for use during our agronomy work.
It’s another set of eyes for us to see what is going on in our customer’s fields.
View of Harvest Using the CCI Drone
Watch this video of our drone in action during the 2014 corn harvest.
Benefits of Drone Farming
Interest in using drones in agriculture is growing. Here are some benefits of using a drone for farm operations.
Are you getting weary of all the rain? Do you cringe every time you check the rain gauge or watch the local forecast? How is this weather impacting your crop?
Rainfall is one of the most important crop inputs and is also one that most farmers have little or no control over. But many growers and crop production advisors see the role of rainfall primarily as the moisture supply that keeps plants alive. It is akin to the gasoline in a car. A plant needs water to operate the rest of the system. Unfortunately, the only parts of a corn plant that can protect themselves from the heat is the leaves. That is why corn plants take on an onion-like appearance when both temperatures and evap-transpiration rates are high and rainfall is low. When a corn plan closes the pores in the leaves and curls the leaves inward, exposed leaf surface area is greatly reduced. This conserves water and helps keep the leaves cooler.
Rainfall also serves a less known but far greater role than just supplying water to plants. Water is the radiator that cools the engine of the plant, the root system. The plant’s root system is the engine that runs the entire plant factory; unfortunately the roots have no way of protecting themselves when soil temperatures heat up. And as long as the root system is overheating, they no longer have the ability to utilize nutrients efficiently. It’s like the engine of your car overheating… the car eventually stops moving. Rainfall cools the root system so it can once again properly conduct plan functions.
In 2010, as well as our current situation in 2014, many farmers across the country had more rainfall than they wanted or needed. But most of those growers don’t realize how important that water is, even in excessive amounts. It cooled root systems and allowed them to regain their ability to perform their proper functions. And growers who knew the effects of cooling root systems, took advantage of getting them back to their normal function by immediately applying nitrogen. Nitrogen is the antibiotic for both stalk rot and drought. That means it is the main ingredient for overall plant health in a grass species like corn.
The number one reason why so much of the crop across the country was negatively affected by either drought or excessive water (more than it should have been) was because there were just too few applications of nitrogen to keep the plant factory running once the motor (the root system) was cooled down. In so many cases the impact of excessive water would have been lessened greatly if that key additional coolant for that radiator would have been added repeatedly.
Fields where nitrogen was applied 4-5 time throughout the season yielded up to 80 bushels more per acre vs. those that went untreated. Nitrogen not only allow the plant to stay healthy, it also helps the plant better utilize water for the development of grain. Rainfall keeps plant root systems operative at critical temperature (65-86 degrees); the key to proper function. Until a plant’s root system is operating normally, nothing you or the environment does really matters.
Do you feel differently about the rain now…maybe just a little bit?