Across the United States, nearly 920 million acres of land are used for agriculture, and the average farmland spans 435 acres. Around one-third of all those acres are managed by full owners — that’s a lot of area for one person or team to operate and oversee.
What if there were an easier way? What if there was sufficient technology that could help California farmland and vineyard operators manage their fields, or that could span all of Wyoming’s 30 million acres of production fields in a breeze?
That’s precisely what the drone industry could bring to agriculture. While we may tend to think of drones as new-age toys for kids or high-tech tools for military ops, their ability to fly over land and remotely deliver high-quality images, information, and data gives them obvious relevance to the farmland real estate realm.
Drones can monitor crops for fertilizer and water distribution; they can assess soil quality, crop health, yields, and changes to farmland productivity over years of time. They can enhance both the quality and quantity of crops — that is, if Americans will ever be allowed to use them.
New drone technologies were recently being tested for farm applications in North Dakota, which is one of the only states that currently allows drone aircraft to soar above the 200-foot altitude limit set in place for the rest of the country.
According to ABC News, the test drone is a Hermes 450, which boasts a wingspan of 35 feet, flies at altitudes up to 8,000 feet, and can cover an area four miles wide by 40 miles long.
“Absolutely, this is really exciting,” drone pilot Matthew Mason said from Fargo. “With this camera we can count seeds and all sorts of stuff. The capabilities are like, wow, this is crazy.”
Farmers and local developers are also excited. “This is new technology,” said Alyssa Scheve, an agent who communicates with area farmers. “As we know, farmers are innovators, so this is right up their alley.”