Drones: Farmers’ Eyes Take To Arkansas Skies

Drones: Farmers’ Eyes Take To Arkansas Skies

Drones have the potential to revolutionize agriculture in Arkansas, but the nature of that revolution remains unclear, reports Jan Cottingham on ArkansasBusiness.com.

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The aviation technology is in its infancy, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s delay in developing final rules regarding the piloting of drones — also known as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) — has delayed adoption of the technology. But the economic impact of the agricultural use of drones appears as vast as their uses.

Up to 80% of the entire commercial market for drones could be dedicated to agriculture, according to a recent Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research report. The report estimated the agricultural drone market at $2 billion in 2015. This market has the potential to create 100,000 jobs in the U.S. alone and $82 billion in economic activity between 2015 and 2025, the report said.

Agriculture in Arkansas is a $16 billion business, one-quarter of the state’s economy, the Arkansas Farm Bureau says.

“As far as Arkansas goes, it could make a huge difference over in eastern Arkansas,” Rusty Rumley said of drone use. For row crops — soybeans, corn, cotton — “that right there is where I’ve been hearing a lot of the excitement,” said Rumley, a staff member of the National Agricultural Law Center at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

Drone use also could have a big impact in forestry, a $3.2 billion business in Arkansas.

Read the full story on ArkansasBusiness.com.

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