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Hello, I have been around this site before because I was a farm kid and have a brother still farming in SW Manitoba.

I have been considering what I am going to do after I retire from the Canadian Navy in the next 18 months and this story in the Western Producer caught my eye: http://www.producer.com/2014/05/eye-...tells-no-lies/

I was wondering if infrared analysis of the health of your crop coupled with geo-mapping your fields (for drainage, cropping options, surveys, etc) would be worthwhile management option for your operation. The drone and associate cameras and processing software have the capability to give the farmer immediate feedback on the health of the crop and to transfer that data to at home farm management software (at least that is what the promotional brochure states)

Here is an excerpt from an email I received from the manufacturer:

"The AutoCopter™ G15 Ag Solution is a “decision making tool” consisting of UAV helicopter providing remote sensing using three cameras (multi-spectral, DSLR and HD Video) while flying a GPS enabled plan.

After landing the multi-spectral data is immediately processed (processing NDVI, GeoTiff - orthorectification & stitching – patent-pending) and exported directly to Farm Management Programs. Our solution also provides the ability to create variable rate prescription maps in the field as well.

There is also HD Video captures the field and enables you to "see what the helicopter sees as it flies" streaming live video to the ground control station. The Nikon DSLR images are geo-referenced. The AutoCopter™ has auto take-off, auto land and GPS enabled auto flight. Because you saved the initial flight you can fly the same route, at the same height, the same speed and same altitude for direct comparison."

My initial idea is to sub-contract through a local Crop Services Supplier (make it part of a total crop health program) in SE Saskatchewan or SW Manitoba. If this idea has legs I would like to eventually become the distributer of this capability to Western Canada.

Now all of these plans are useless if there are no customers (you folks) so if I get some positive feedback I will do some more investigation this summer and make a business plan to go forward.

Here is the company website if you are interested:
AutoCopterâ„¢ Corporation, All Rights Reserved

Thank you for your time,
 

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I have to admit I haven't opened any of your links. My tounge in cheek observation from playing with a drone, is that on the Canadian prairies your machine will waste all of its energy fighting the breeze. At which time you'll get an excellent look at the crop retrieving your crashed machine with a dead battery.

IMO, present tecnology does not have the range or flight time to offer any more than spot checks on a commercial grain farm. Perhaps if it was a hybrid recharged by a higher energy density source like a piston engine running alcohol and nitromethane.
 

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IMHO, no one has shown me proof that the VR capability is of the exactness to utilize this tech anyway. And every plant has different reflectiveness, and no one has yet to tell us what the proper "reflectiveness" is. and since varieties only last 3 years now, doing test plots in our own fields for a couple years is now a joke. I think this tech has lots of promise, I own my own drone, and hopefully take pics of my fields this year. The only people I know who are using this high tech stuff for making decision are not asking all of the right questions.....and have no confirmation of if it is helping or hurting them! just my opinion, but I think there will be lots of money made in this field. and since most farmers are making more per acre now than they grossed a couple decades ago, there is a little money to waist!
 

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not sure why we need a drone , I think we put that camera on our spray boom and it will talk to its computer and apply accordingly.
maybe need inject system on boom to apply right product ,multiple product's??
Boom width of 160 ft and over slow travel speed one headland ,shall I keep going?
 

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Here in Alberta a number of commissions have gotten together a project trying to answer that question. Is there is a place for this for scouting weeds and disease. It includes canola, pulses, potatoes, wheat and alfalfa seed. Its the first year of a two year project. Its using a fixed wing UAV so hopefully we will see if you can get useful data.
Dusty
 

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Been playing with this for about a year. Spent more on it than I want to know. So far, I have gone no were other than a gopro video of my fields. Hobby grade planes crash, often. Anything from electronic failures to hardware failures. If you get into it, have the equipment demoed before you by it. From flying to data processing. Lots of companies on the UAV train trying to cheat you out of your money.
The company I have an eye on is Precision Hawk. Considering just using there plane and there processing services if I decided to keep going with this adventure. Otherwise, it will have to be considered a hobby. Still, I would have to see their plane in action and see the data being processed before I committed.
 

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I think the technology for drones is moving along. Right now I believe they are just a expensive toy, but in 3-5 years I bet they start becoming more useful and accurate. 5-7 years, my guess, they will be as common as auto steer on the farm.
 

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not sure why we need a drone , I think we put that camera on our spray boom and it will talk to its computer and apply accordingly.
maybe need inject system on boom to apply right product ,multiple product's??
Boom width of 160 ft and over slow travel speed one headland ,shall I keep going?
K-state is doing a study on rate controller accuracy. It seems that it takes approx. 6 seconds to get the rate to the pre-determined amount. That is after they "tweeked" the controller instead of using the "pre-set" numbers.....so on a sprayer with 160 ft booms, with....lots of "greenseekers" you would have to drive really slow to get the rate on the right spot.....or you could do what everyone has done till now, just average out the greenseeker data far enough down that you can hold the rate constant, make the controllers lie about what is really being applied at the moment in favor of the "average". by doing this you would do fine on the average, which still could save you money if you are over applying fert.
 

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camera image transfer is just starting to develop for ag , one compagnie is trying to discover to implement this in combination with a sprayer manufacture and this is maybe 5- 10 years down the road,
But by then I think we will not blanket our crops the way we do now.
It will be prescription applied that's were the savings has to come from in order to support this new tech.
They will also monitor when and under what kind of condition's you apply chemical's.
their will be rule's for speed and windspeed and weather related condition's to allow for application.
Consumer's (politic's) will demand no waste of chemical's or over apply as new to follow rule's.
In my view their is no reason why controller's need that much time to react , think they can build it in a way where their is no delay, just a matter of money.
 

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I think a better idea when asking people if it is a good business plan try doing a poll. New technology is often only taken up by 3.5% of people in the first place. So in Western Australia with 5000 farmers that would make 175 farmers that maybe interested. If you ask the bulk of farmers if they are interested 96.5% of replys will be negative. Many of that 96.5% will get on board once they see the benefit . You could ask the question who is using the tech, who would use the tech , who would use it if they could be shown a benefit to their business and who would never use the tech.

Something I learned from The Combine Forum - View Profile: kirschenman blog.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffusion_of_innovations
 

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A company[1] in Southern Alberta is doing this sort of thing, and making money at it. Whether it's actually useful at this point (as in, does the information make a farmer money) is debatable. But this is early days. Remote sensing in agriculture is a relatively new field (20-30 years old at most). In another 20 to 40 years remote sensing from cheap but reliable UAS will be ubiquitous I think. Though even then, you'll still have to walk your fields regularly and look closely at things with a human eye.

[1] Agricultural | IsisGeo
 

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I've been looking into this as well, and there is something that many drone sales pitches don't seem to include. The minute you fly your drone for non "recreational" purposes, you are legally required to have a licence, called an "SFOC" - Special Flight Operating Certificate - which is handed out by Transport Canada - Aviation. How likely are you to get caught? Not very likely, but heads up if you do: the fine is $5000 - $25000.
 

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In the states there was recently a case were the FAA tried to fine a guy or group $10,000 for commercial use of a "drone". FAA lost the case. I would be speculating on details since I don't remember them very well at all. It is still a touchy subject, but the FAA is doing testing around the country to work on setting rules for drone use. I would be cautious about flying for someone else and getting paid a dime at the moment.
 

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I've been looking into this as well, and there is something that many drone sales pitches don't seem to include. The minute you fly your drone for non "recreational" purposes, you are legally required to have a licence, called an "SFOC" - Special Flight Operating Certificate - which is handed out by Transport Canada - Aviation. How likely are you to get caught? Not very likely, but heads up if you do: the fine is $5000 - $25000.
Here in southern Alberta we have a company doing mapping with UAS (unmanned aerial systems), and they are licensed with Transport Canada. From what I have been told, the fees and regulations are quite reasonable here. If we ever choose to use UASs (hate the word drone) in our farming operation, we will obtain a license.

Canada's situation is imminently better than in the US. Generally speaking, it's impossible to legally use UASs for commercial purposes (or private hobby beyond line of sight for that matter) in the US, though that will have to change sooner or later. In the meantime, I do worry about the number of irresponsible people flying remote control vehicles these days. They might be considered toys, but they are potentially dangerous.
 
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