Talking Technology In Nebraska

When it comes to precision agriculture practices, there are plenty of big brains in Nebraska. The proliferation of irrigation, in particular on corn, provides opportunities to try all measure of techniques and products to squeeze that extra dollar out of the crop — and to reduce the environmental impact of farming on the land.

And for the past decade, the Nebraska Ag Technology Association (NEATA) has been gathering to discuss the good and the bad, what’s worked and what hasn’t, in fields across the state. I had the privilege of speaking in front of this group on Jan. 29, and if even a little bit of their smarts rubbed off on me along the way, then the trip was more than worth it.

There were a lot of cool ideas and discussions, but I can never resist a good toy. And Dr. Richard Ferguson, soil science professor at the University of Nebraska, showed up with a doozy — a helicopter for taking digital imagery.

But this is no ordinary “toy.” The helicopter has been specially harnessed with cameras and GPS units, so that it can be programmed to fly to a specific point in a field, take pictures, and return to the home base. The imaging off the cameras still needs some work, but the helicopter/GPS concept works. The unit can also be controlled by a remote control console if needed.

Dr. Ferguson says that these sorts of “drone” helicopters are being used for all sorts of tasks, such as in motion picture production and for conducting facility inspections from overhead. I know what I want for Christmas…

Thanks to NEATA for your hospitality, and keep up the good work.

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