Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have taken the agriculture industry by storm and will soon be taking flight at the 2015 Farm Science Review.
Collaborative efforts between the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University, which sponsors the Farm Science Review, and the Ohio/Indiana UAS Center will be on display and in the air during the three-day annual farm show, Sept. 22-24 at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, Ohio.
UAS have been one of the fastest-growing areas of interest for farmers and growers across the nation over the past couple of years and hold great potential for data collection in agriculture, said Ryan Smith, director of the UAS Center. Based in Springfield, Ohio, the center offers resources to support research, development, testing and evaluation of UAS technologies for academics, businesses and government.
Farmers will be able to use UAS technology to collect information in a variety of areas – crop health and emergence, weed location, water content, chemical compounds and more, according to Smith. Within hours of data collection, agronomists can then prescribe solutions to any field problems, improving efficiency and yields industry-wide, he said.
“The technology is changing rapidly,” Smith said. “The aircrafts continue to develop and change weekly, market sensors keep improving, and data processors are discovering how to take massive amounts of data and create usable records.”
The biggest question looming in regard to the use of UAS in agriculture is that of aviation regulations. Currently, there are no set commercial regulations specific to UAS technology, so farmers who wish to fly UAS must apply for an exemption from the Federal Aviation Administration. This is a challenging process that can take more than three months if an approval is granted, Smith said.
“The FAA is in the process of developing rules specifically for UAS technologies,” he said. “These regulations will be less burdensome than current rules, allowing more freedom for commercial uses.”
For the third year in a row, the Farm Science Review will feature live demonstrations of UAVs, giving those on-site a firsthand look at the aircrafts in action.
Smith and his team will share their UAS expertise with attendees at the show this year, alongside John Fulton, precision agriculture specialist for Ohio State University Extension and the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Ohio State.
“We’re excited to provide farmers, consultants and retailers the opportunity to see the technology at work,” said Fulton, who is also an associate professor in the department. “We want people to experience UAS and its potential uses within farm businesses, along with providing pertinent information to those interested.”
In addition to live field demos, UAS technology and data will be on display in the Firebaugh Building and featured in educational sessions throughout the show, such as the “Drones in Ag: Know the Law” and “Farming the Bottom Line With Drones” presentations in the “Question the Authorities” Q-and-A sessions offered daily during the show.
“It’s an exciting time in agriculture, especially with the emergence of UAS technology and its potential impact on our industry,” said Chuck Gamble, manager of the Farm Science Review. “We’re committed to showcasing cutting-edge technology at the show to help farmers increase their yields and improve operations in order to feed 9 billion people by the year 2050.”
Advance sale tickets for the Farm Science Review are $7 at all OSU Extension county offices, many local agribusinesses and online at fsr.osu.edu/visitors/tickets. Tickets are $10 at the gate. Children 5 and under are admitted free. Show hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 22-23 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 24.
Farm Science Review is known as Ohio’s premier agricultural event and typically draws more than 130,000 farmers, growers, producers and agricultural enthusiasts from across the U.S. and Canada annually. Participants are able to peruse 4,000 product lines from roughly 620 commercial exhibitors and engage in educational workshops, presentations and demonstrations delivered by experts from OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, which are the outreach and research arms, respectively, of the college. For more information about the Farm Science Review, visit fsr.osu.edu.