Across Regions, Cultivation/Production, Equipment/Technology, North America, Trends

Drones: Toys or tools? Potato farmers share their experience

Drones have captured the imagination of many growers for their breathtaking images of farmland. But there’s a nagging question. Can those feelings of pride be turned into profit? Kate VanderZaag shares her experience along with the family dog, Samson, near Alliston, Ontario. So far, there’s no nickname for the drone. Photos by Glenn Lowson. Drones can take aerial footage of such high quality that the user looks like a National Geographic videographer. But do those images provide any value beyond selling the latest edition of iron? Kate VanderZaag and her husband Peter have been experimenting with a drone on their 1,800 acres of owned and rented land in Ontario, Canada. They share an insightful experience. “We’re open to technology,” says VanderZaag, a fourth-generation potato farmer. “We may not be the first to adopt technology, but we know that we’re on the cusp of change moving towards more information gathering in-season. The drone is not used as a toy.  It’s a field tool.” Two years ago, they purchased a DGI Phantom 3 for $1600. The high-definition photos are remarkable for clarity. The device can be programmed for a flight pattern of 15 minutes in duration. The drone is not a replacement for field scouting, a job that VanderZaag performs with diligence two or three times a week. More

Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse

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