Manhattan Hosts 2013 UAS Conference

MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) New advancements to unmanned aircrafts could play a major role in the future of agriculture.

From responding to drought and floods, to applying fertilizers and pesticides, the skies the limit for the future of using unmanned systems -- or drones -- in agriculture.

"The one simple answer is that we can be much more efficient in the work that we do," said Deon van der Merwe, Toxicology Professor at KSU.

The 2013 Kansas Unmanned Systems Conference featured a concept brief for using unmanned systems for disaster response and recovery, as well as panel discussions.

AgEagle, a company based in Neodesha, was among systems on display.

The AgEagle operates by flying over a field, capturing several hundred pictures, which are then stitched together into a single mosaic. The mosaic is then enhanced to display a color-coded map, signifying the health of the crop throughout the field.

"You can do assessments of an environment by remote sensing. You can do it at relatively low cost and you can do it in a much safer way as well," said Merwe.

Experts say that can be a big plus for the environment.

"With the correct tools and the correct software and systems, sustainable agriculture is achievable without polluting the watershed, without algae blooms, without potassium or P and K in the watershed," said Mike Bergmeier, Owner of Shield Ag Equipment. "Because farmers will only be putting on those nutrients that are required by the crops and utilized by the crops and the rest of it wont be waste."

The AgEagle was developed with help from the K-State Agronomy Department. It is fully autonomous, and can be operated by someone with zero UAS experience. it's expected to hit the market in January -- at a cost of $11,700.

The conference continues Wednesday in Manhattan at the Hilton Garden Conference Center.


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