New drone aircraft to act as crop scout

By Larry Dreiling High Plains/Midwest AG Journal

As producers undertake spring planting, it’s useful to look at what is ahead of them in the near future as they complete their purchases of seed, fertilizer, and crop protection products.

Likewise, it’s rather fun to see what may be ahead just a few short years from now as the research community takes new technology and reduces it from the “gee whiz” stage down to a useful product or service.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or drones, lately have become the talk of modern warfare. Since 2004 the U.S. Air Force and Central Intelligence Agency have been using UAVs to strike at terrorist targets, primarily in Pakistan, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Using Global Positioning System navigation and loaded with bombs, these drones have struck more than 300 targets. Estimates indicate they’ve taken out more than 2,000 terrorists in the process with no loss of American lives.

Now this drone technology is moving down onto the farm.

The Kansas State University Department of Agronomy recently purchased a new MAJA Unmanned Aircraft System, with the intent of installing imaging systems on it for studying plant productivity, monitoring plant growth stages, assessing plant health, and mapping plant composition for characterizing changes in distribution of invasive and toxic plant species.

http://www.hpj.com/archives/2012/apr12/apr16/SpringPlantingMACOLDsr.cfm