'What's up with drones?' is focus of central Iowa event

'What's up with drones?' is focus of central Iowa event

Use of UAV's in agriculture will be the topic of a presentation and demonstration June 13 at Cambridge.

An event for farmers and crop consultants who want to learn more about the use of unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs in agriculture will be held Saturday June 13 at Cambridge in central Iowa. Location for the meeting, which is free and open to the public, is the Methodist Church in the town. The meeting begins at 1 p.m. with a discussion of the benefits of UAVs for use in agriculture.

READY FOR TAKEOFF: Unmanned aerial vehicles, called UAVs or drones, will be featured at an event June 13 in central Iowa. Experts will explain how this technology can be used for crop scouting, remote sensing and other ag purposes.

The proposed rules issued earlier this year by the Federal Aviation Administration for owning and operating drones will be explained, and you'll get advice on how to choose the best drone for your farming operation. A half dozen commercial exhibitors who sell drones to farmers, or who are in business providing custom services using drones for farmers, will be part of the presentation. The exhibitors will answer questions and demonstrate and explain the UAV systems they are using and selling.

Vendors will showcase systems and explain how they work
At the discussion at 1 p.m. the first speaker is Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. He'll talk about the future of drone use in Iowa agriculture. Experts on drones will provide a forum explaining the types of drones for use in farming and precision agriculture. They'll also explain the Federal Aviation Administration's proposed rules.

Iowa exhibitors on hand will include Davis Equipment, Agri-Image, Top Intel, RoboFlight, Leading Edge, SenseFly, Crop Tech Services, CropCopters, and representatives of the Iowa State University Department of Aerospace Engineering. At 2 p.m. the vendors who are commercial operators of drones will perform flight demonstrations on the airplane field located on a farm on the north outskirts of Cambridge. At 2:30 p.m. there will be a drone race.

Drones have a number of potential uses in agriculture
The drone event is sponsored by DroneSharks.org and is being held in conjunction with Skunk River Days, an annual community celebration in Cambridge, which takes place each year on the second weekend in June.

Scott Olson is the organizer of the event. "Drones are not used by the UAV community to harm or spy on people," he emphasizes. "Instead, they are used in search and rescue operations, environmental research, conservation and preservation, as well as agriculture and other uses." The website DroneSharks.org was created by Olson, a hobbyist, as a recreational activity for Home Sweet Home LLC, which is a Medical Foster Home in Story County to support events, and share files, photos and links with disabled veterans he cares for in Cambridge.

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From search and rescue to monitoring crops and livestock
Olson says, "More and more people around the world now understand that drones are used in good ways, from search and rescue to monitoring crops and livestock. Commercial drones may be making as many as one million flights per day in the world ten years from now." He adds, "I use drones to keep an eye on my disabled veterans walking through town, as I use my home surveillance and DVR security system."

For more information visit www.dronesharks.org.

State of Iowa now requiring operators to register drones
In other news relating to drones, it was announced on June 10 the Iowa Department of Transportation's Office of Aviation is treating drones like any other aircraft. Thus, commercial drone operators, even if they have federal approval to fly their unmanned vehicles, they still need to register with state officials.

The Iowa DOT's planning and outreach manager, Tim McClung, says: "We are going to keep drones under the same language. We are doing a watch and see, to see if there is anything we learn and if there are any changes we need to make in the future."

The Federal Aviation Administration has begun to grant authorizations to companies to start using drones for commercial purposes. In Iowa, as of June 10, at least 10 individuals or businesses have received authority and plan to use their vehicles for research, real estate, photography or agricultural purposes.

Iowa DOT is notified when drones are registered with FAA
The Iowa DOT's aviation office is notified by the federal agency when an aircraft in Iowa is registered with the FAA. Since drone operators have to register their vehicles with the FAA, the state aviation office is also notified of new unmanned aerial vehicles.

"Thus, once an aircraft is required to be registered with FAA, the state of Iowa requires registration with Iowa DOT," says McClung. The Iowa DOT is giving operators 30 days from when an FAA registration is issued to register with the state. Commercial drone operators should call the Iowa DOT office if they have questions about registering.

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