Oregon State University plans on using unmanned aerial vehicles to research their use in monitoring and treating crops. OSU will use the drones to assess the health of the school’s potato crop and that of a commercial potato grower, both located near Hermiston, OR. Drones are the latest innovation in “precision agriculture,” which uses global positioning systems, sensors and iPads to more accurately monitor fields. Data generated by those technologies can be analyzed by farmers to determine watering needs, infestations or diseases. The Federal Aviation Administration is set to establish guidelines for using such aircraft by September 2015. Farmers will likely hire a company to provide the service due to the complexity of flying the drones. According to a report by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the industry is expected to produce 21,000 jobs in the year following FAA’s approval.
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