Kansas State researchers showcase unmanned aircraft systems

Drones (KSN File Photo)

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SALINE COUNTY, Kansas — Kansas State University researchers are hoping to make a dent in the agricultural industry with unmanned aircraft systems.

“I’m sure it will benefit farmers down the road,” said Deon van der Merwe, associate professor at Kansas State University.

The university hosted a flight demonstration at the Great Plains Joint Training Center in Lindsborg.

“At the moment we’re doing a lot of research, but it’s getting to a point where it’s becoming practical for farmers to start using it as an application,” said Merwe.

Some people may refer to these planes as drones–  it is small, light weight, equipped with a high definition and a navigation system on board.

“You can detect things such as drought trace, some disease trace, and detect variants in the field,” said Mewre. “You might have areas that have too much fertilizers applied or too little fertilizers.”

Researchers argue it’s valuable data that can help farmers with their crops and livestock, but it can cost up to six figures depending on the system.

Dr. Kevin Price says the data is available almost immediately in some cases.

“You want to know how quickly the farmer can have the information?” said Dr. Kevin Price, professor of agronomy for Kansas State. “It’s right here– JPEGS. You can pull it up and you got the imagery.”

Researchers point out that they’re working with the agricultural community and the private industry to try to transfer the technology from the university to the private sectors.

They’re hoping to increase job opportunities and to help farmers in the community.

Farmers can purchase a kit and build their own system in about three weeks, but because of Federal Aviation Administration they can only fly and gather data from their property.

A company called Ag Eagle in Neodesha is producing the systems.

KSN News learned there is a waiting.


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