SAN ANGELO, TX – It’s not just flying enthusiasts using drones anymore. They’ve been used in the agriculture for a few years now and their popularity is growing. Senora Scott got the low-down from people who man the controls.

If you’re in the ag industry, you know there’s always something that needs to be done. Now more than ever, farmers and ranchers are using technology to help out with their “to do” lists.

“Well, I know guys that are 65 to 70-years-old that are using these today. It’s not difficult, and they’re definitely not just toys,” Charles Grogan, brand manager for Grogan’s, said. 

That’s right: drones are flying their way into agriculture.

“It’s definitely the future, so it’s here,” Grogan said.

But, how are they being used?

“Spot spraying. Instead of having a guy running around doing an acre a day, this one drone will do about 10 acres an hour,” Grogan said.

The drones at Grogan’s range in size, but there are larger drones not in stock yet that have eight blades and eight motors and can hold up to two and a half gallons of chemicals used for things like crop dusting.

“So, it’s not gonna replace crop dusting, but it would definitely be a good tool in their belt, something to add to their arsenal,” Grogan said.

Especially for those who have about 10 acres or less.

“They can fly the edges a lot easier, with less worry about drift because it’s got downward facing radar, so it’s gonna stay about a foot to two foot above the crops versus a crop duster that’s 10 to 15 catching a lot more wind drift,” Grogan said.

Attach a thermal camera to one of these babies and the list of uses keeps on going…

“Fighting fires, or looking for animals, or looking for a fleeing suspect, or checking wind turbines, or cell towers,” Grogan said.

They even have “brains,” if you will, to match the brawn.

“Where the nitrogen levels are doing, crop damage, you can do average crop count, you can do canopy cover. Volumetrics. Like if you had a pile of grain sitting there, you can fly around and it’d tell you how many tons are there,” Grogan said.

Drones are an investment. They start around $1,200 and can go upwards o f$14,000. But they could help farmers and ranchers save money in the long run by telling them where to apply chemicals, so they can spray less and track their yields, possibly raising that number by 30 percent. Of course, there are licenses you have to get through the FAA before using these drones.

(© 2017 KIDY)