The House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management recently held a hearing to educate members about innovations in agricultural imagery and technology, including unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
According to the committee, this meeting was the second hearing in a series examining Big Data and its role in agriculture. The subcommittee heard from a variety of stakeholders about using satellites, manned aircraft and drones as a way to collect imagery that farmers can leverage to make better business and conservation decisions for their farms.
The witnesses stressed the importance of maintaining the privacy of individual farmers and ranchers and ensuring that their data is protected as technology continues to evolve.
Witnesses included Lanny Faleide, president of Satshot Inc.; Craig Molander, senior vice president of business development at Surdex Corp.; Christopher Dombrowski, chief technology officer at TerrAvion Inc.; and Robert Blair, a farmer and the vice president of agriculture at Measure.
“Imagery was one of the first forms of Big Data in agriculture, and it serves as the foundation for a host of other innovations,” said Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., acting chairman of the subcommittee, at the hearing. “Whether it’s satellites, airplanes or drones, each of these tools has a role to play, and farmers can choose the product that best fits their needs.
“With that imagery, farmers are able to see maps of their fields and make better decisions about how they manage their farm, including decisions about fertilizing more efficiently, addressing pests and disease, and timeliness of planting and harvest. Imagery is the foundation for precision agriculture, and the innovations we heard about today are building blocks for more improvements to come,” he continued.
Michael Conaway, the agriculture committee’s chairman, added, “American farmers and ranchers are utilizing technology to produce more and better food and fiber products with fewer inputs than ever before. While the imagery and mapping technology we discussed today paves the way for additional increases in farm productivity and efficiency, it continues to be the foundation on which we administer our farm and conservation programs.”