More university interest in drones for agriculture

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The agriculture industry’s interest in the use of drones has steadily been increasing, especially in 2013. As a result, more agriculture-focused universities are looking to explore the possibilities these pieces of technology can provide. One such university is Louisiana State University.

LSU AgCenter engineer Randy Price recently used a drone to assess freeze damage in a sugarcane field by taking aerial photos. Price also said the AgCenter wants to equip a drone with a sensor to measure crop growth to determine if a field needs more fertilizer.

A LSU AgCenter county agent is leaning to use a helicopter drone to see if enough fertilizer has been applied to a sugarcane field. But the technology would apply to corn crops as well.

Several programmable drones have been built by research associates at the AgCenter and they are testing the use of radio-controlled airplanes as well as helicopter drones.

Price said LSU AgCenter is applying for a special FAA permit to conduct more research, according to the Charlotte Observer.

Drones are expected to be used in a multitude of ways to help crop consultants and farmers of row crops. Some uses could be determining if a field has herbicide-resistant weeds, needs more fertilizer, or has certain crop-damaging pests.

The Federal Aviation Administration is in the process of writing regulations for the use of drones so that they don’t interfere with other aircraft. The unmanned aerial aircrafts are still classified as hobby aircraft and not available for commercial use.

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