Drone technology changing agriculture; Wise County farmer using drones to help run family farm

(WJHL)
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WISE COUNTY, Va (WJHL) - Technology is changing how farmers work and giving them a birds eye view of their land.

One Wise County, VA farmer is using drones to help run a family cattle farm.

Summer Smith has over 100 acres of land.

Using drones has become a standard part of operating her farm.

Smith says is helping her be more productive and efficient.

Farming has been in Smith’s family for generations. Since then, her farm and agriculture techniques have evolved.

“The ground itself has been in this family since 1837. This farm has been established since 1912. Seventy-five years ago we did not have drones. Seventy-five years ago we barley had a tractor. My dad when he was growing up they had a team of mules. You would walk the ground to check your fences. Now I can use my drone,” said Smith.

Using drones on farms has become the new way of agriculture, says Dan Swafford, an Extension Associate at the Virginia Cooperative Extension.

“Drones have been around since World War One actually, but only since the last ten years they’ve become involved in agriculture. There’s a part of agriculture called Precision Ag,” said Swafford.

Drones allow farmers to now focus on their land in square feet instead of acre by acre.

“Drones are valuable in this because they can fly over the land and take pictures, photographs with censors and show what areas of the land need more input,” explained Swafford.

Drones are used on the farm to survey the land, fly pesticides over crops, and even herd livestock.

“Your range of vision and the information you can collect on the ground is going to be so much smaller, almost minuscule, compared to the information you can gather from the sky,” said Smith.

Colleges and universities are teaching this technology in their agriculture based learning.

“It’s so neat to work with the younger ones to know that when they get to the point when they’re ready to get involved in an agriculture occupation that they know something about drones and how they can be used on farms,” said Swafford.

Summer Smith also works for the Wise County Geographic Information Science Department. She teaches people in other occupations how they can use drones in their own work.