Beginning November 15, farmers will be able to implement flying drones to perform important tasks in their fields. That’s when changes in Federal Aviation Administration regulations will loosen many of the current restrictions on this new technology. Advocates believe the devices can improve precision agriculture management that uses GPS and data collection to boost crop yields and profits while aiding water conservation.
For the first time, the drones will be operated legally during an entire growing season, allowing companies to test their business models and technologies together. This boost in crop intelligence should make farms more efficient and help smaller operations compete with well-funded big agribusiness conglomerates whose fields are typically rife with genetically modified (GMO) crops.
“This is the first year we’ll actually be able to see, by the time the growing season is over, the impact on the farmer and the impact of the quality of the grapes,” says David Baeza, whose precision agriculture startup Vine Rangers uses drones and ground robots to gather data on vineyard crops. “The biggest thing to watch is what’s going to happen to giants like Monsanto. How you define this market is changing, and the incumbents are in for a battle.”
Source: Fortune magazine