Farming with Drones

What comes to mind when you think about drones flying low over the landscape, or about precision sensors attached to self-driving vehicles navigating across rugged terrain in the dark of night? Maybe NASA searching for signs of space life? Whatever comes to mind, chances are you aren’t picturing a farmer. But technology has been quietly revolutionizing agriculture for decades, resulting in a new way of farming called precision agriculture.

CNET, the technology-focused media website, thinks it’s important enough to headline their July 6th e-newsletter: How today’s farmers got a head-start on tomorrow’s technology. Incorporating information systems and cutting edge technologies into their management systems, farmers and ranchers can increase their profitability, apply exactly the right amount of agricultural chemicals to do the job while avoiding negative impacts to water quality, and reduce their contributions to climate change. Sound hard to believe?

Here in Oregon, wheat farmers may use GPS-guided tractors to avoid over-seeding fields or over-applying agrochemicals. Irrigators may install variable speed pumps on their water delivery systems to save both water and energy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Crop producers may use cover crops or leave plant residue on the ground conserve soil moisture. Livestock producers may use perennial forages to help sequester carbon and rebuild soil health. OEC applauds such forward-thinking members of Oregon’s agricultural community. We seek collaborative ways to increase the resilience and adaptability of our state’s producers, while working to protect the environment and reduce the negative impacts of climate change.

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