Thanks to a John Deere manager, students in Western Illinois University's (WIU) School of Agriculture recently had the opportunity to learn firsthand some of the agriculture-related applications of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Stewart Moorehead – robotics system manager at John Deere's Technology Innovation Center of Champaign, Ill. – gave passes to five students to attend ‘Unmanned Systems & Agriculture: Realizing The Field of Dreams,’ an annual event sponsored by the Heartland Chapter of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). Moorehead served as the keynote speaker at the event.
After learning the WIU School of Agriculture had received a UAV through a donation from Munson Hybrids, Moorehead invited the students to attend the daylong conference. In January, Munson Hybrids – a regional, family-owned seed company that serves farmers in Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin – donated a DJI Spreading Wings S800 to the university.
‘I had heard about different practical uses of UAVs that could be very beneficial to the producer, so that is what greatly sparked my interest in attending the conference. Also, last summer, I was taking part in an internship during which they brought one out and took pictures of a field day,’ says Tyler Vogeler, one of the students.
‘I hope to apply what I learned from the conference to Western's up-and-coming precision ag program. Also, hopefully, in the future, I will be able to operate a UAV to assist growers in a way they have another weapon to battle against Mother Nature,” he adds.
‘There were several presenters and a lot of good information, but what stuck with me the most was the importance of flight stability to ensure accurate data acquisition,’ says student Kenneth Tryggestad. ‘I predict I could use them for anything from crop scouting to surveying land and even monitoring livestock.”