UAVs take to the skies at this year’s Expo
By PAUL HOLLIS
Farm Press Editorial Sta;
There will be eyes on the skies at this year’s Sunbelt Ag Expo, as UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) take �light over the
show’s demonstration �ields.
“We’ll be having UAV demonstrations this year for the �irst time,” says
Michael Cha�in, Expo farm manager.
“We’ve been working closely with
this technology here on the farm, focus-
ing on how UAVs can be used to bene�it
agriculture. The UAV’s are equipped
with cameras, and we’ll be demonstrat-
ing those in the �ield.”
The demonstrations are scheduled
at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., each day of the
show in the �ields of the Expo’s re-
Some of the research conducted at
the Expo site has been in the area of
crop fertility studies, says Cha�in.
“The biggest bene�it I see from this
technology for agriculture is being able
to cover a large number of acres in a
short amount of time. If you’re a farmer, you or your scout would not be able
to go out and walk 1,000 acres every
three or four days.
“With this technology, farmers will
have the potential to �ly over a large
number of acres in a short period of
time, and be able to recognize differences in the �ield, whether due to fertilizer de�iciencies or pest problems.”
The technology is still in the early
stages, Cha�in says, and the trick is being able to pinpoint precisely what
you’re looking at when you see a problem or discrepancy in a �ield.
“We can’t look at peanuts and tell
if we’ve got a white mold disease outbreak in a particular corner of the �ield,
but we can look at the picture provided by the UAV and tell if something’s
“Then we have to take a closer look
to see speci�ically what’s wrong with
the crop. If we’ve got an irrigation,
disease, or insect problem, we can recognize that there’s a problem, then go
to that particular �ield to see what’s
wrong, and be able to �ix it in a timely
matter before it affects an entire crop.”
During the three days of the Expo,
UAVs will be �lying over crops in the
research �ields and giving attendees a
birds-eye view of this new technology,
Georgia a leader in UAV technology: The UAV demonstrations are presented by the Georgia Center of Innovation for Aerospace and the Association
for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), Atlanta Chapter.
UAVs are predicted to bring more
than $2.8 billion and 2,880 jobs to
Georgia by 2025.
“We’ve brought folks together from
the unmanned aerospace industry to
south Georgia to talk with farmers,
because we saw potential to take aerospace technology and apply it to agribusiness,” says Steve Justice, director of
the Georgia Center for Innovation for
“They are both two big industries in
the state. Farmers and researchers are
telling us that having that eye in the sky
allows them to look down on a crop and
get a sense of the health of that crop.
Do they need to put more water here,
do they have an infestation here, or do
they need to spray more elsewhere? So,
it’s really an opportunity to allow them
to increase yields,” says Justice.
The UAV being demonstrated at
the Expo takes high-resolution images
from 700 feet above the ground, and it
�lies below cloud cover, which means
that on a cloudy day, it can take clear
images that satellites can’t.
“Up to this point, for aerial imagery,
farmers have depended on satellites,
from which you don’t get images on a
regular basis, or high-altitude manned
aircraft, from which you can get some
imagery, but not regularly.
“So, unmanned systems are going to
really give them that advantage of regularity,” says Justice.
By teaming up directly with leading
agricultural researchers at UGA, the
collected imagery is easily deciphered
and useful for the everyday farmer.
This is one of the �irst projects in
the nation where agricultural researchers have teamed up with an aerospace
technology company to �ind mutually
At this year’s Expo, participating
companies Guided Systems Technologies, Flight Guardian, and VSG-Unmanned will show the value of these
technologies in agriculture.
Research partners from the Georgia Tech Research Institute, Georgia
Institute of Technology, University of
Georgia-Tifton, and Middle Georgia
State College will give participants an
inside view to the future of the technology and, pending FAA approval, will
perform �light demonstrations with the
For more information on Georgia’s
UAV efforts, visit the Georgia Center of
Innovation for Aerospace’s website at
ing in the Southeast. The company is mak-
ing a push to increase market-share in the
Southeast. Several of their new varieties will
be on display at the field day.
Dow’s Phytogen brand cotton seed has
made a big push in the Southeast in recent
years and several varieties will be shown at
the field day.
The Expo farm has several large plot soybean OVT variety trials each year. Chafin
says Monsanto and its Asgrow brand soybean seeds are planted this year, and company representatives will discuss production
of soybeans in the Southeast.
Pioneer will have some of its top soybean
varieties in the test program at the Expo
Farm. The company’s Y series of soybean
varieties have shown great promise in recent
years for enhanced pest resistance and
adaptability to a number of yield-limiting
factors common in the Southeast.
DeWitt, an Arkansas-based company
now with Bayer, will have soybean varieties
at this year’s Expo Field Day.
Land Grant answers
The Expo farm site is a primary site for
University of Georgia research trials for all
major Southern agronomic crops.
UGA Cooperative Extension specialists
for corn, cotton, soybeans and peanuts will
share their on-site research in better fertility,
variety trials, disease, and pest management.
More and more Southern corn and cotton farmers are seeing the benefit of well-timed fungicide applications. Though some
commodity prices have slumped this year,
an investment in protecting yields against
fungal diseases is something that can pay off
for growers, Chafin says.
Herbicide resistance continues to be a
major focus for cotton in the region. UGA
weed specialists and company representatives will be on hand to talk about management strategies to deal with the issue,
plus giving a look at what’s coming down
the pipeline to help growers win the battle
against hard-to-control weeds.
“The field day is for farmers and for those
interested in what is available to help make
Southeast agriculture more profitable and
efficient,” Chafin says.
“That’s what we strive to do with the field
day: make it profitable and efficient for those
who attend. So, come with your questions
and leave with answers you can use on your
CLOSER LOOK, from Page 3
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Titan/Goodyear will be giving away
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Register to win one of our great prizes
Trimble Navigation/Ag Technologies
Be sure to register for a lightbar to be given
away by Trimble Navigation/Ag Technologies GEORGIA COTTON
“Serving Georgia’s cotton
producers since 1965”
401 Larry Walker Parkway
Mail: PO Box 1464
Perry, Georgia 31069
Visit us in Section WA- 8
of the Sunbelt Expo
October 14-16, 2014