Home-Regina's PerspectiveThe Drone Elephant

The Drone Elephant

As I mentioned in my last article, convention season is well underway. This year is my first national convention I have attended. Foot traffic was much heavier than state conventions and it was interesting to see pilots and operators from around the world. While visiting with a vast array of current Chem-Man users and prospective users alike, one subject seemed to resonate with each topic of conversation. What was once the elephant in the room is now becoming more accepted in the industry. The topic is, of course, you may have guessed it, drones…

While Chem-Man was initially designed and utilized by aerial and ground applicators, our program has become popular in the drone community. While several stand-alone drone application companies utilize Chem-Man for its various features, we have seen an uptick in fixed wing, rotorcraft, and ground operations implementing drones into their own spray program. When drones first emerged, they were revered as a threat to most aerial operations. As the technology has advanced and entry costs have become less expensive, the sightings of drones making applications have become even more noticeable. We have learned that no matter our individual opinions or concerns, it doesn’t appear that drones are going anywhere anytime soon. We have seen that a drone can never replace the need for airplanes, helicopters, or ground rigs; even more so, we can begin to develop the mindset that there may be a need for drones in our industry. A drone could also serve as another service an operation can offer to accommodate its customer base better. An operator told me last spray season that instead of having the fear of an outside organization targeting his customer base, he felt it best to offer the service himself so that his operation could be the one-stop shop for all his customer’s application needs. Each aerial or ground operation can think of more than one instance where a job may have been more suitable for a drone than risking the life of a pilot or sacrificing the quality of work with an application in an unfavorable location.

As I am sure many people have seen, unfortunately, people are entering the drone business with little to no experience in the application or pesticide industry. If drones are to be utilized for application purposes, they must be conducted professionally and in compliance with all state and federal regulations. I believe that there isn’t a more capable group of individuals to pave the way for drone use than the ag pilots who have already blazed the trails in the aerial application industry. While the quality of work and the legality of applications are important, I believe that safety should be the highest priority for everyone involved, whether a drone-only operation or an operation with a combination of drones, airplanes, and helicopters. Aerial operators have their fair share of obstacles to contend with, so it is essential to mitigate the risk of a collision by communicating with everyone involved. The subject of drones may not be agreeable to everyone. Still, everyone can agree that pilot safety should be the highest priority as time unveils just how significant of a role drones will play in our industry.





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