Meat & Livestock News

Midwest Farmers Embrace Precision Drone Technology for Crop Spraying

Agriculture drones glide above rice fields spraying fertilizer. Farmers used a drone to spray fertilizer on rice fields. Agriculture technology concept

Farmers across the Midwest are rapidly adopting precision drone sprayers as a means to enhance efficiency and reduce both the cost of inputs and the reliance on commercial applicators.

Danny Assman, a farmer situated in western Iowa near the Nebraska border, founded Iowa Aerial Applicators less than two years ago, initially to defray his own drone licensing costs.

The service has seen swift expansion, now operating across Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Missouri, with plans to extend further east.

Assman discussed with Brownfield the advantages of using drone sprayers, particularly for targeted applications of fungicides and insecticides, allowing for the treatment of specific areas within fields. This precision approach can significantly reduce the volume of chemicals used, with applications as low as two gallons per acre.

In addition to providing custom application services, Assman’s business has evolved to include sales and servicing of equipment for farmers who opt to manage to spray their own fields.

He highlights the cost-effectiveness of drone technology, noting that excluding the initial cost of the drone and labour, operational costs can be as low as one dollar per acre. For custom applications, the charge ranges from $10 to $20 per acre.

The drones, retailing between $30,000 and $50,000, are seen as a sound investment, with an expected payback period of around three years.

Assman’s insights were shared during an interview at the recent Consus Grain Marketing and Risk Management Event.