Even among the 21st Century ag-tech marvels on display at this year's 3i Show, aerial crop and pasture-monitoring robots are a telltale for advances in farming and ranching technology.
BTI Ag Solutions is selling drones to fly over in cutting down on time-consuming checks around crops and prairie land. The company is hosting a drone demonstration during this weekend's 3iShow at Western State Bank Expo Center.
Kent Kirk, BTI Ag Solutions integrated solutions manager, said the company has been looking into drones for the past year and have been selling the machines for a few months. "You can see things through the air that you can't see at ground level," Kirk said."We're seeing a lot of interest in drones. People are starting to figure out ways to use them on the farm and we're promoting different ways they can use them."
BTI is demonstrating the DJI Phantom 2 every hour during the agricultural show. Integrated systems consultant Cody Hommertzheim said software has been added that can operate drones autonomously, hover at certain points or be flown manually.
The cameras on the drones can create high-definition images that can be transmitted wirelessly to a computer display, or save the photos and videos on an SD card. There is also an iPad application that will allow farmers and ranchers to see their fields as the drones are flying.
"You can buy the drones off the internet, but it won't have the software," Hommertzheim said. "The software we found allows us to give a more stable flight in the air and allow the farmer to use it more than just keeping it in sight. It will help in getting data back to the farmer."
Hommertzheim said the drones can work up to a half-mile away and at a ceiling of 400 feet due to FAA guidelines. Drones are selling for $5,000.
Kirk said the livestock industry can use drones instead of driving out to find cattle in pastures, check the fence lines for holes or go to windmills to find out the water level.