UC Gets FAA Clearance to Research Drone Use in Ag

UC Gets FAA Clearance to Research Drone Use in Ag

June 25, 2014

A UC laboratory at the former Castle Air Force Base in Atwater received clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly dones at the Merced County Radio Control Club's field, reported Thaddeus Miller in the Merced Sun-Star.

The unmanned aircraft are part of a project funded by the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources that aims to study the possible use remote controlled aerial imaging to provide real-time information to farmers about water use and crop health.

The project leader, David Doll, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Merced County, has put together a project team that includes UC Merced professors and graduate students, and UCCE advisors and staff.

Drones are also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Doll believes small, basic UAVs can provide a platform for imaging hardware that can vastly improve crop surveillance to enhance water usage and pest control.

Doll's project will test the potential of UAVs for water management and pest monitoring. He also plans to write a curriculum to extend information to farmers and demonstrate the use of small, remote controlled aerial vehicles as imaging platforms.

UC Merced also has other plans for using drone technology in research. They are seeking FAA approval to fly the aircraft over the university's protected land, which includes 6,500 acres of grassland and vernal pools.

Dan Hirleman, dean of UC Merced's School of Engineering, said the university's use of drones and development of new technology could set it apart from other schools.

“We're kind of at the ground zero for a lot of what's going on in those areas,” he said. “It's just a perfect fit with our sustainability theme and the application area.”

More California Ag News

BIG WATER RALLY SCHEDULED FOR JAN. 16! Thousands Needed To Participate In Big Water Rally on Jan. 16  
Solano County 4-H Clubs Win Big at Skills Day When Life Gives you Lemons, Make Lemon Curd! Showmanship winner Tyler Scott of the Wolfskill 4-H Club DIXON--Tyler Scott of the...
California Ag News UC To Help Ranchers UC to Help Ranchers Survive Winter 2013-14 The first agricultural operations to feel the impact of a drought are dryland ranchers, many of whom r...
MONTEREY FARM BUREAU WARNS CPUC ON WATER ISSUES Desalination Plant Could Jeopardize Groundwater Supply California American Water could threaten the ground water supply of the Salinas Valley where u...