Eight Ways to Employ Drones on the Farm

September 27, 2013 09:28 PM
Eight Ways to Employ Drones on the Farm

Phil Ellerbroek works for Aerial Precision Ag, which makes a "ready-to-fly kit" for around $4,000 that includes a multirotor unmanned aerial vehicle  fitted with an HD camera and video recorder. He’s had a lot of conversations with farmers about flying drones. "One of the most common questions I get is, farmers want to know what they can do with it," he says.

Your imagination is probably the biggest limiting factor, Ellerbroek says. He lists eight inventive ways he has seen drones deployed on the farm.

  • Tile and drainage inspections
  • Barn roof and silo inspections
  • Irrigation pivot inspections
  • Hail and cattle damage inspection for crop insurance claims
  • Scare off wildlife such as deer that are eating crops
  • Patrol for hunters on your private land
  • Locate missing cattle (This is where a thermal camera comes in handy.)
  • Video check-ins for landlords

If you’re just getting started, don’t be afraid to employ a "crawl/walk/run" strategy, Ellerbroek says. Find one or two ways to use it, and get familiar with the equipment at your own pace.

To watch drones in action and learn more about the legal challenges, visit

Back to news


Spell Check

Jack Harper
Saskatoon, ND
2/19/2015 10:59 AM

  I have yet to see anywhere on the net a bonafide reason to use drones in dry land farming. Lot's of mickey mouse reasons out there. Not to say none exist but, if they do no one is talking. Where is the software to scientifically analyse all aspects of a crop??? What?.... cat got your tongue?

Idaho Falls, ID
12/21/2016 03:39 PM

  Hey Jack, if you would take a moment to look, there are actually quite a few software options available that can provide you with crop damage analysis. Here are just a couple of examples, but there are literally dozens of options out there if you'd simply do a quick Google search. http://www.skymatics.com/skymatics-crop-damage-analysis/ http://www.mipar.us/ Good luck with finding an option to work for you. The sky's the limit! :) Take care!


Corn College TV Education Series


Get nearly 8 hours of educational video with Farm Journal's top agronomists. Produced in the field and neatly organized by topic, from spring prep to post-harvest. Order now!


Market Data provided by QTInfo.com
Brought to you by Beyer