Drones could revolutionize the way farmers make decisions about - KCTV5

Drones could revolutionize the way farmers make decisions about their crops

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At The Farm Research Center in Cass County, Chad Middaugh scouts his corn and soybean plots using a small unmanned aircraft, a drone. (KCTV5) At The Farm Research Center in Cass County, Chad Middaugh scouts his corn and soybean plots using a small unmanned aircraft, a drone. (KCTV5)
GARDEN CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Area farmers are adopting new technologies that could revolutionize the way they make decisions about their crops.

At The Farm Research Center in Cass County, Chad Middaugh scouts his corn and soybean plots using a small unmanned aircraft, a drone. With a small remote control and an iPhone, he can fly a quadrocopter with an attached camera up to 400 feet above his fields.

Middaugh runs AgTech, a crop consulting company, at The Farm which specializes in agronomic data management. But he didn't grow up on a farm. He's a former IT professional.

"I've always been kind of a nerd," Middaugh said. "I can remember the day I got my first drone. It was unbelievable."

Nerd might just be the new farmer. Middaugh has found a niche using drones to collect images and data for farmers, allowing them to make better decisions about when and where they apply fertilizers and pesticides.

Ten years ago, a farmer would have had to walk portions of a field to find pest or weed problems, a time-consuming task that would offer only a glimpse of his or her land. A drone can fly over 500-600 acres in an hour, taking detailed pictures of an entire crop.

Middaugh works with an agronomist, Landon Teal, who uses the data to plan for harvest.

"With the drones, I can get over the top and see the diseases as they set in," Teal said. "We can put a stop to it or help the grower make decisions for next season."

The company's research also focuses on organic and non-genetically modified crops. 

"A lot of people want to know where their food's coming from," Middaugh said. "With that much more quality, that much more tracking, it just adds to their benefit and our benefit as well."

Middaugh pictures a future in which remote controls and cameras save farmers time and money. And, he wants to connect the world to his farm from the palm of his hand.

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