Archive for December 18, 2013

 

Eric Mortenson/Capital Press
A four-rotor, camera-equipped drone hovers during a demonstration flight at a McMinnville, Ore., forum.


Speakers say agriculture will be an early adapter of drone technology.

MCMINNVILLE — Young Kim is a former U.S. Air Force pilot and familiar with the “outcome oriented” use of drone aircraft by the military. Get them over a target, conduct the surveillance or fire the missile – that’s how success is gauged.

Putting drone technology to work in agriculture, as he does now as general manager of Bosh Precision Agriculture in Virginia, requires an entrepreneurial mind-set.

“Do not waste growers’ time,” he said at drone technology forum in the heart of Oregon’s wine country this week. “You’ve got to deliver value very, very quickly. Show them how it will increase yield and lower inputs costs.”

Kim believes unmanned planes, equipped with sensors and cameras, will rapidly transform agriculture by providing quick, detailed information on plant health, soil and water conditions, disease or pest outbreaks and more. He said it’s a change similar to moving from analog to digital technology.

Agriculture is in the midst of a significant transformation, he said. The “biggest ag boom since the 1980s” is accompanied by a trend in which the number of farmers is declining but the acreage farmed by each is increasing, Kim said. At the same time, those farmers working large plots of land want the intimate knowledge they used to have of smaller acreage. Drones can provide that, but Kim said people shouldn’t get hung up on the “sexiness” of the technology.

“The real value is the data,” he said. “Focus on the problem of the grower and work backward from there.”

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