Clemson Researcher Gets FAA Approval to Fly UAV for Precision Ag

Posted by Betsy Lillian on January 12, 2015 No Comments
Categories : Precision Agriculture

Clemson University's Joe Mari Maja has received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to fly an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) as part of his precision agriculture research.

According to a release from the university, the technology will monitor crop health and gather data to improve farming efficiency and productivity by letting growers know precisely when and where to water, fertilize or spray crops. The UAV can also quickly spot diseased livestock that require attention.

Maja, a research sensor engineer at Clemson’s Edisto Research and Education Center in Blackville, S.C., received approval in December to fly a UAV as part of his effort to technologize farming in South Carolina with the use of “intelligent agri-tronics devices.”

According to Clemson, the aircraft allow for much quicker crop monitoring: A UAV can analyze a 10-acre field in less than five minutes – work that takes a person days or weeks to complete, Maja says.

The unmanned aircraft collect data more quickly, and Maja is also working to make the data easier for farmers to interpret. He is developing sensors that can transmit crop data to wearable devices such as smart glasses and has built prototype circuit boards that will allow UAVs to communicate directly with farm technology such as irrigation systems.

Clemson says it is renovating a laboratory at the Edisto center that will allow him to build and test prototypes rapidly. His work will result in new and improved sensors and UAVs designed for farmers.

Maja joined Clemson University’s precision agriculture research program last year to develop techniques that can improve profitability and environmental sustainability in the state’s largest industry, agriculture. The S.C. General Assembly supports this program because of its economic impact on the state, says the university.

Photo courtesy of Clemson University

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