FAA relaxes drone regulations, giving growers more options

  • Jun 08, 2015
FAA relaxes drone regulations, giving growers more options
Agricultural drone enthusiasts got some help from the Web industry recently. According to Forbes, pressure from tech giants Amazon and Google have convinced the FAA to allow select organizations to operate unmanned aircraft systems for commercial purposes. 

But that doesn’t mean drones will be hovering over every field this summer. 

The FAA’s restrictions for drone use are still fairly strict—only allowing aircraft that weigh less than 55 pounds and flights up to 200 feet high.  Additionally, drones can only fly during the day and must stay within the visual line of sight of the pilots. 

According to WinField’s Joel Wipperfurth, the FAA rules limit the use in Ag because of the ability to scale small drones for field collections, and regulations may limit the cost and time effectiveness of drones.

“Growers still need to weigh their options carefully,” he says. “While we all love the idea of drones and the high-resolution images they provide, with these restrictions traditional piloted aircraft or satellite images often work just as well if not better.”

Wipperfurth adds, “Even though the ability to see every stalk of corn in your field is exciting, if your implements can only apply treatments to larger areas, satellite imagery might be an equally effective—and less expensive—option at this point.” 

The FAA still working on updated unmanned aircraft regulations, which are expected in 2016. 

Read the articles: 
Forbes: Despite Regulations, Drones Are Taking to the Skies 
New York Times: Farmers Flying Drones May Soon Be Given Clearance