Texas Agriculture February 5, 2016 : Page 6

Drones take to new heights By Jessica Domel News Editor Move over traditional farm equip-ment, there’s a new tool appearing in trucks and barns across the nation– drones. Drones, also referred to as un-manned aerial vehicles, vary in size, shape and purpose. Some people use them to take photos. Others to gather video. And some simply use them for fun. In agricultural communities, more and more farmers, ranchers and dairymen are using them to fly over their operations to keep a better eye on what’s going on down below, whether it’s crops, cattle or pasture. Garrett Mathis of Floyd County uses his drone to check on his center pivots and crops. “Whenever the pivot stops, a lot of times it’s away from the road,” Mathis said. “Most of the time, the only way agriculture to diagnose what’s wrong with it is to walk out there to where it’s crooked. I’m hoping with this, I can just fly out there, look down and diagnose whether it’s mechanical or electrical. That saves a trip out there wading through the mud to make sure we have the right parts to fix it with.” If all goes according to plan, Mathis’ new drone will save him valuable time throughout the growing season. He’s also hoping to use it to cap-ture videos and photos of planting and harvest. “I’m sure I’ll find more uses as I go along,” Mathis said. “I’ll be using it for more and more different things around the farm.” Clint Rutledge of Grayson County hopes to use his for both crops and cattle. “On some of our places, we have a bunch of brush and this goes up high enough so we can see the cattle,” Rut-ledge said. A recent infringement also brought to light other possible uses for drones. In one of Rutledge’s fields, a construction company is putting in a waterline and veered off their ease-ment. Rutledge’s lawyer encouraged him to use a drone to fly over the property and take photos of the infringement for evidence. He also plans to use his drone to create videos or capture photos to share on social media. “I’ve seen a lot of videos on You-Tube and Twitter. There’s a guy in the Midwest that I follow on Twitter. He posts a lot of videos,” Rutledge said. “I’ve talked to him, and I think that’s what we need to do. We need to show what farmers actually do. It’s going to be a good tool to show how, from start to finish, we plant and harvest our crops. If people can understand how that goes on, I think they will appreciate it more.” Timothy Gertson of Wharton County has created and shared vid-eos of his rice harvest online. He uti-lizes his machine to collect valuable data. “I’ve got a drone now that I use for aerial imaging. I plan on using it to scout my fields and help with water control in the spring. There are a lot of sensors that you can fit it with and near infrared cameras where you can measure crop health, thermal imag-ing and different things like that. There are a lot of possibilities,” Gert-son said. “For now, I’m kind of explor-ing the possibilities to see how I can fit it into my operation.” Before purchasing their respec-tive drones, all three men did a lot of research online to ensure they were getting the machine that would best fit their needs. 6 F EBRUARY 5, 2016

Drones Take Agriculture to New Heights

Jessica Domel

Move over traditional farm equipment, there’s a new tool appearing in trucks and barns across the nation– drones.

Drones, also referred to as unmanned aerial vehicles, vary in size, shape and purpose. Some people use them to take photos. Others to gather video. And some simply use them for fun.

In agricultural communities, more and more farmers, ranchers and dairymen are using them to fly over their operations to keep a better eye on what’s going on down below, whether it’s crops, cattle or pasture.

Garrett Mathis of Floyd County uses his drone to check on his center pivots and crops.

“Whenever the pivot stops, a lot of times it’s away from the road,” Mathis said. “Most of the time, the only way to diagnose what’s wrong with it is to walk out there to where it’s crooked. I’m hoping with this, I can just fly out there, look down and diagnose whether it’s mechanical or electrical. That saves a trip out there wading through the mud to make sure we have the right parts to fix it with.”

If all goes according to plan, Mathis’ new drone will save him valuable time throughout the growing season.

He’s also hoping to use it to capture videos and photos of planting and harvest.

“I’m sure I’ll find more uses as I go along,” Mathis said. “I’ll be using it for more and more different things around the farm.”

Clint Rutledge of Grayson County hopes to use his for both crops and cattle.

“On some of our places, we have a bunch of brush and this goes up high enough so we can see the cattle,” Rutledge said.

A recent infringement also brought to light other possible uses for drones. In one of Rutledge’s fields, a construction company is putting in a waterline and veered off their easement.

Rutledge’s lawyer encouraged him to use a drone to fly over the property and take photos of the infringement for evidence.

He also plans to use his drone to create videos or capture photos to share on social media.

“I’ve seen a lot of videos on You- Tube and Twitter. There’s a guy in the Midwest that I follow on Twitter. He posts a lot of videos,” Rutledge said. “I’ve talked to him, and I think that’s what we need to do. We need to show what farmers actually do. It’s going to be a good tool to show how, from start to finish, we plant and harvest our crops. If people can understand how that goes on, I think they will appreciate it more.”

Timothy Gertson of Wharton County has created and shared videos of his rice harvest online. He utilizes his machine to collect valuable data.

“I’ve got a drone now that I use for aerial imaging. I plan on using it to scout my fields and help with water control in the spring. There are a lot of sensors that you can fit it with and near infrared cameras where you can measure crop health, thermal imaging and different things like that. There are a lot of possibilities,” Gertson said. “For now, I’m kind of exploring the possibilities to see how I can fit it into my operation.”

Before purchasing their respective drones, all three men did a lot of research online to ensure they were getting the machine that would best fit their needs.

“I looked at the different camera options,” Mathis said. “I wanted one that was easy to control and fly. The price was a little bit of an issue, but after I looked at some other models, the one that I have now met all of my criteria.”

One thing Mathis noted about the machine is that you have to make sure all the machine’s software is up-to-date before flying it.

He also flew his drone in his yard several times at low altitudes to ensure he had a good grasp on how to use it before flying it higher and further away.

“It’s pretty easy as long as it’s not very windy,” Mathis said.

Read the full article at http://texasagriculture.texasfarmbureau.org/article/Drones+Take+Agriculture+to+New+Heights/2389206/289677/article.html.

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