SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

USU Eastern professors show how drones can improve farming

Oct 20, 2023, 6:26 PM | Updated: 6:38 pm

PRICE — Professors with Utah State University Eastern are trying something different. They’re using drones to help with farming and it’s changing the world of agriculture.

Shawn Barstow and Shalyn Drake teach drone certification classes at USU Eastern.

They have drones that use AI to track people and drones that use heat sensory for search and rescue operations and more.

“Once somebody figured out they can do this, the sky is the limit,” Barstow said.

The drones use heat to identify objects around them and can help farmers with their crops.

“Various heat signatures on plants can tell you how healthy a plant is, how healthy the soil is, how much sun it’s getting and not getting, and how much water it needs,” Drake said.

Darker colors on the drone show healthier plants whereas lighter colors indicate plants need some care.

Drones can even determine spots that need fertilizer.

Barstow said some farmers use a drone that detects discrepancies in fertilizer and can then drop fertilizer on the exact sections needed.

Some even use drones to sense which livestock are in heat during mating season.

“You can actually read their numbers on their tags and their ears,” Barstow said.

Other farmers use drones to herd their livestock.

“I know a farmer who took a speaker and attached it to his drone,” Barstow explained. “He recorded his dog barking and now he herds his sheep with his drone.”

The use of drones can cut down a rancher’s time on the farm by 30%, according to Drake.

“You can throw a drone up and then in 30 seconds have your entire field identified as to how healthy or unhealthy certain sections are,” Drake said.

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USU Eastern professors show how drones can improve farming