Drone Technology Useful for Calif. Ranchers and Growers
by Laurie Greene, Editor
Fifth-generation Parkfield rancher in southern Monterey County and 2016 Vice President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Kevin Kester, was introduced to the viability of potentially beneficial uses of owning and using a drone on his ranch for agricultural purposes.
As owner and operator of Bear Valley Ranch & Vineyards, the family’s cattle and winegrape operations, Kester anticipated the biggest benefits of drone ownership would be the capability to check on cattle and ensure their safety from a bird’s eye view, and to determine water levels in reservoirs—a task that in the past could be completed only on foot or by vehicle. Cattle safety is especially important for ranchers, according to Kester, as the cattle industry has been experiencing stagnation in production.
Kester said having a drone would also helpful for security issues. He wants to detect human intrusion on his land, a problem that he experienced recently. “There have been some hunter-related trespass issues and people coming onto the ranch,” he said. “We’ve actually had cattle and horses shot.”
Kester, who is also a member of the California Association of Winegrape Growers, Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance and the Central Coast Vineyard Team, will purchase a commercial drone package and believes this modern technology will give not only cattlemen, but growers in California, a new way of assessing safety, production and maintenance.