A tractor…yes. Irrigation system…sure.  Grain dryer…possible. But have you ever heard of a drone being used as an agricultural tool? It’s a “thing.” In fact, believe it or not, agriculture is No. 4 on the Top 10 List of Operational Industries that currently have commercial exemption status with drone rules. And the “field” is about to open a lot further.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finalized the first operational rules for routine commercial use of drones conducting non-hobby operations on June 21, 2016. The new rules will take effect late August — which is good news for those in the agricultural business.

Drones can make operations safer and more efficient. Just think about it for a moment. Drones can reveal patterns that expose issues such as irrigation problems, soil variation, and pest and fungal infestations that aren’t apparent at eye level. They can survey crops as often as necessary to reveal trouble spots or opportunities for better crop management sooner.

And icing on the cake…the new rules are:

Operational Limitations for Drones

But there are some operational limitations each potential drone owner needs to know. The following are just a few:

It’s a lot to take in, but if you’re planning on adding a drone to your operation, we also suggest:

While I’ve listed some best practices above, by all means, if you have questions, reach out! Holmes Murphy has expertise with agricultural companies and can help with identifying exposure, risk management, and insurance protection with drones. We’d be interested to hear your questions and happy to share our knowledge. Comment below or contact us directly!