Farm Industry News Blog

UAV show offers plenty to see

One of the first unmanned aerial vehicle shows to offer visitors live demos draws interest. In this blog we offer a look at many aspects of the Precision Aerial Ag Show where farmers were learning plenty about this new technology.

The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) phenomenon is new – sure it feels like it’s been around for sometime but even the iPad is only four years old. The rapid rise – beyond those early innovators – of these compact machines that can gather so much information so efficiently is creating new opportunities for farmers and eventually for consultants. Of course it’s also the same industry waiting for a major government agency to make some key decisions as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) works on rules for commercial use of this technology.

Yet that wait didn’t stop farmers from traveling to Decatur, Ill., to see these machines in action at the first-ever Precision Aerial Ag Show. Set up at Progress City USA, home of the Farm Progress Show every  odd year (that show is in Boone, Iowa this year in case you were wondering), visitors had a place where they could watch UAVs at work.

And those that attended the show were engaged, often overtaking UAV booths in the trade show to dig into how things worked and watching how to set up these low-flying aerial wonders. I learned a few things too.

Sure, the FAA could make their decision on ag use of UAVs in November, but the announcement of the decision is just the start. As one expert told us during the show, the FAA announcement will be followed by a 30- to 60-day comment period and after that the agency has 12 to 20 months to issue a final decision. That would put the decision as late as 2016, which would mean another season without use of this information on a wide scale.

Yet the optimism was apparent. Visitors wanted to know more and they really grilled exhibitors. A farmer panel held on each day had farmers asking a range of questions about specific systems and the key concepts for their operation. And exhibitors were ready to answer with software working and UAVs in their booths.

What follows are a few images from the event and my thoughts on what I learned. So read on to check out this mini-slide show from PAAS for 2014.

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The Farm Industry News Blog features commentary from Willie Vogt, Daryl Bridenbaugh and Jeff Ryan.

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