While momentum for unmanned aerial vehicle adoption in agriculture has somewhat slowed during the downturn in the market, there is still buzz and optimism surrounding the technology as a valuable tool.
Regulation of drone operation is continuing to take shape as well, with the most recent FAA rule taking effect on August 29.
Part 107 requires that operators who plan to fly small drones weighing less than 55 pounds for commercial purposes obtain a remote airman certificate and fly the aircraft no higher than 400 feet above the ground, no closer than 400 feet from a structure, within visual line-of-sight and only during daylight hours.
The new rule was a hot topic among the UAV companies exhibiting at this year’s Farm Progress Show, in Boone, Iowa. The show kicked-off the day after the new rule took effect and the consensus among companies we visited was that it will ease the requirements for dealers, farmers and other service providers to legally use collected information from drones to make actionable on-farm decisions.
But there are still challenges operators needs to consider when flying fields, according Phil Stiles, president and general counsel of SkyView HD, a drone service company based in Florida.
According to the FAA, 76 waivers to its new Part 107 regulation were granted on the first day the rule took effect, and there could be as many as 600,000 drones used commercially during the first year of the new regulation.