I am not sure when the ag-aviation industry will accept UAVs; for some operators, never. Of course, that would be a narrow view of relatively new technology. Change is inevitable and should be embraced to a degree. All change is not good. And, some change has its time and place, as with drones in ag-aviation.
I’ve stated all along that one day drones in ag-aviation will be commonplace, but not to the degree where they actually compete with the ag-plane. It should be obvious to those that know drone technology has no hope of replacing ag-planes. Some may scoff at that statement. However, the more in touch a person is with our industry, actually sitting in the cockpit, becomes the realization of the challenges facing the drone industry to pursue ag-aviation as a replacement tool.
Having said that, I’m not advocating that there is no place for drones in ag-aviation, as there is. Nor do I advocate drones cannot replace the ag plane. I am saying that to do that would be cost-prohibitive and without a profit potential. In other words, there are still plenty of ag-pilots willing to fly and plenty of manned aircraft to do the job. That doesn’t take into account all of the regulatory hurdles.
So, while we wade through the dreams of drone operators that think they can run full-scale ag-operations, let’s take a look at what they should be focused on. In many scenarios, a drone could be helpful in scouting weather conditions at field locations. I feel certain they can be used for the photographic analysis of crops. And, I’m sure there are other legitimate uses; but wholesale ag spraying by air is not one of them.
Rest easy when you read somewhere about how a drone has taken over the ag plane’s duties. Instead, think about how your company can benefit from this astounding technology. Astounding technology it is, it just has to find its way. This means you can be a part of it and as the tide turns in favor of reasonable UAV utilization within ag-aviation, maybe everyone can move forward with its development in the right direction.
Until next month, Keep Turning…