Unmanned aircraft awaiting FAA approval as a farm tool
AgEagle in Neodesha offers a light unmanned aircraft to farmers to inspect their crops. Data it collects is then sent to a smartphone or tablet.“TERRY PECK”/COURTESY
AgEagle’s small unmanned aircraft weighs less than 10 pounds and flies over fields, allowing farmers to monitor a crop, check on cattle or discover a drainage problem.
But until the Federal Aviation Administration issues regulations for small unmanned aircraft, farmers can’t legally use the Neodesha-based company’s technology as a farm tool.
But a hobbyist using the same aircraft flying the same mission can – as long as it’s only for fun, said Tom Nichol, head of AgEagle’s business development.
“The moment (the farmer) decides to use those images to make decisions about his crops, he’s now violated rules for airspace safety,” Nichols said. “Anytime you’re using the device to form a business decision, you’re in violation of federal rules.”