On Thursday several partners in Yuma applied for the Federal Aviation Association's pilot program called the FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program. This program would allow drones to potentially be used to help aid in agriculture and border patrol efforts.
Growing crops is a year-round business in the Desert Southwest. For many people who live here, it is their livelihood.
With funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, researchers will develop new disinfectants, grow new breeds of melons, and educate farmers, retailers, and consumers on safe melon production practices.
The students designed a semi-autonomous aerial vehicle, more commonly known as a drone, to operate like honey bees by spraying pollen over date palm trees at a nursery in Yuma.
Traditionally the cultivation of dates has been very labor intensive. For example, workers have had to climb and pollinate each female tree by hand. But drones are changing the way things have been done for thousands of years.
“GPS is used on just about everything,” says Paul Brierley, head of the Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture (YCEDA). “Rows that are perfectly straight allow closer cultivation — enough room between the plants and the knives to minimize waste.”
Brierley said there’s a growing consensus, including himself, around the county that the quality of mobile phone service has gone down this year, and the usual summer respite when there are fewer users hasn’t happened.