Drones Could Impact Food Supply

Herding cattle. Counting fish. Taking an animal’s temperature. Applying pesticides.

The president of the National Farmers Union says that when it comes to drones, “your imagination can go pretty wild in terms of what would be possible.”

This month, the Federal Aviation Administration issued the first permit for agricultural use of unmanned aerial vehicles. An Idaho-based business will use a lightweight, fixed-wing drone to survey fields of crops.

Drone technology can make farmers more efficient by helping them locate problem spots in vast fields or ranchlands.

Increased efficiency could mean lower costs for consumers and less impact on the environment if farmers used fewer chemicals because drones showed them exactly where to spray.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been working for years on rules permitting commercial use of small drones.