Des Moines, Iowa – November 18, 2014: The Nebraska Power Farming Show is known for showcasing the latest technology in agriculture and this year is no exception. The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) is an exciting frontier. Four UAV companies will display their products this year. There are two plane-type UAVs: Ag Eagle and eBee. There are also two Helicopter-type UAVs: AgriImage UAS and Precision Drone.

UAVs are the new form of crop scouting. Equipped with a camera and the correct software on the ground, UAVs give growers and scouters the ability to check the crop health from the air at an efficient rate. Software on the ground can stitch aerial shots into a high-resolution mosaic map that can be used to make better crop management decisions.

UAVs can provide farmers with two types of detailed views. First, seeing a crop from the air can reveal patterns that expose everything from irrigation and fertilizer problems to soil variations and even pest and fungal infestations that are not apparent at eye-level. Second, cameras can take multispectral images (infrared and visual spectrum) which can be combined to create a view of the crop that highlights the difference between healthy and distressed plants.

Brian Krienke, UNL Soils Extension Educator, will discuss the use of unmanned aerial vehicles and research results using a variety of sensor systems to investigate nitrogen and water stress of corn, as well as share preliminary information on other research uses of UAV-mounted sensor systems. He will be presenting each day of the show in one of two seminar rooms located north of the food court in Pavilion 3.

Although there is excitement about the use of UAVs, the legality of flying them remains an issue. The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) prohibits the use of all unmanned aircraft for commercial use without the agency’s express approval. The FAA has said that it plans to allow commercial UAVs once it has drawn up proper regulations for the aircraft. Some rulings may occur yet in 2014, but more likely in early 2015.The recommendation in the meanwhile is to educate yourself about UAVs and spend some time with flight simulator software.

Ag Eagle is in Booth 3832 in Pavilion 3; eBee by Sense is sold by Labra Consulting, Booth 4914 in Pavilion 4; AgriImage UAS is in Booth 2814 in Pavilion 2 and Precision Drone is represented by McGinnis Precision Drone, Booth 2216 in Pavilion 2. There could be more UAV vendors by show time, so stop by any information booth to inquire.