Already on the rise, the use of unmanned aircrafts, or drones, on farms is likely to get (legally) more ubiquitous thanks to new federal laws that went into effect this summer.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has streamlined the registration process for commercially used drones, putting new rules in place for the protection and regulation of users of the unmanned aircrafts. These procedures are expected to benefit both farmers and the drone industry, as agriculture already leads the market for commercial drones and is expected to generate $350 million in drone revenue in 2025.
Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, expects that American companies that shipped operations overseas to countries like Australia, Japan, and South Korea where drone use in agriculture has been legal for decades will now bring their business back to the U.S., benefitting the economy here as well.
Beyond growing the drone industry, as Kyle Miller, an applications engineer at agricultural drone maker AgEagle Aerial Systems, pointed out in an interview with IEEE, “This is going to have a big impact on farmers.”
Farmers can use unmanned aerial vehicles to check fields for areas of dryness or disease, spray fertilizer and pesticide, watch over livestock, and a number of other purposes. Drones are more easily serviceable and significantly cheaper than small piloted planes or satellites; ready-to-use agricultural drone systems, together with sensors and software, range in price from $1,500 to $25,000.
These new laws are a big step forward in improving U.S. agriculture, and with their enactment, farming is flying high into a future full of possibility.