A Nodaway-Holt graduate, Zach Lamer, arranged for a drone spraying demonstration, August 11 on a 10-acre plot of soybeans owned by the school district.
Lamer, an employee of Lewis Hybrids, a regional company of Bayer Crop Science, had donated the seed for the plot for the first time this year. The drones were leased from Rantizo by Ag Partners Coop of Hiawatha, KS, and were operated by Ethan Noll and Trevor Kuhlmann out of Seneca, KS. Both Noll and Kuhlmann have their drone pilot licenses.
Kate Holmes, NH ag instructor, had several of her students come to the demonstration. Noll used one drone for the demonstration and Kuhlmann acted as support staff, refilling the drone and switching out the battery after each pass.
The FAA limits the size of the drone and the amount of weight it can carry. The drone weighs 55 pounds full and carries 2.5 gallons of spray. It covers approximately 1.2 acres and hovers six feet above the ground while it sprays. The trailer set-up includes 28 batteries, rechargers and a generator which can recharge the batteries while at the field site.
The duo normally sprays fungicide and insecticide. For the demonstration since people were going to be present, the drone just sprayed fungicide.
Josh and Travis Smock are the “stewards of the land” and donate the equipment used to farm the plot. They were present for the event, along with other interested people.
Ag Partners Coop normally operate three drones simultaneously with each drone having a plotted area to cover. The drone is programed to return to the exact spot where it ran out of spray. It navigates the field at approximately 15 mph or 23 feet per second. Noll estimates the cost is $14 per acre.
The drone can maneuver in tighter spots and can target small areas. The use of the drones is only limited by the imagination. Noll explained how the drone is used and engaged the students in thinking about items to be aware of while spraying. It does take longer to spray using the drones but the control is more precise.