New Drone Technology for Ag at SC Agribiz & Farm Expo

While planning for the 2nd annual SC Agribiz & Farm Expo has been in the works for eleven months or so, an interesting late addition was been confirmed just last week. Show manager Jody Martin:

“Our show is a lot about innovation in agribusiness and agriculture and at the cutting edge of innovation is the unmanned aircraft systems or the agricultural drones. We will feature an expanded exhibit in a combined effort of NCSU and Clemson working together on displaying a lot of the aircraft.”

Kyle Snyder is Director of the Next Gen Air Transportation Center at NC State:
“Last March, we had our first flight using UAVs for agriculture research. Thru the summer we were flying a small UAV with a 3 ft wingspan and weighing in at 3 lbs. It carries a video camera or other types of cameras to look at crop stress, health and improving yield predictions.”

Being an actual aircraft, the use of a UAV, or drone requires FAA clearance, and Snyder says the government agency is being very cooperative:

“On December 30, the FAA announced six UAV test sites around the country. Unfortunately we didn’t get one but we have been flying since March of last year with three locations in NC and we are looking for more partners. Through the FAA’s process for providing a special wavier knowing that its safe and we know the area we are flying in is safe.”

Snyder outlines their plans for the SC Agribiz & Farm Expo:
“We are very excited and will be there to answer questions. We will bring our bird that we have been flying. My operations manager will also be there to talk about the imagery. A professor from Clemson will bring his aircraft and show his research on forestry.”

Martin says the possibilities for use of unmanned aircraft for agriculture are limitless:
“A farmer could be able to scout and see what’s happening in his fields. If he has floods or disease or insect pressure. He can do field mapping as well. There are so many uses for these to be great tools in the high tech farming industry with all the great innovations that we have that can be paired with this kind of aircraft.”

For more on the South Carolina Agribiz and Farm Expo visit www.scagribizfarmexpo.com .


A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.

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