Drones part of effort to help attract younger farmers

January 30, 2018 03:29 PM

(WSLS) Dan Swafford is spending his days exploring the future of farming. He and his team from the Virginia Cooperative Extension, with the help of Virginia Tech, are doing research on the possible benefits of drone technology on farms. 

"I look at it as a 'go check on' tool. Instead of having to walk out and check on the sheep or drive out and check on the cows, they can use the drone to do it for them," Swafford says.

The goal of the agriculture drone is to make it easier for farmers to keep track of their animals and to attract more young farmers to the industry.

"As our farmers get older, we're going to have to have somebody to take their place. As we get fewer farmers, we're still going to have to have people out there producing food," he says.

On good flying days, Swafford and his team take to the skies to see how sheep react to a high-flying visitor in the fields. Dan hopes to prove that farm animals won't fear the new technology, an incentive for farmers to invest. 

"Some breeds, the first day we fly above them, they're not scared of it at all. You can come down within 15 feet of them. Some breeds, it takes three or four weeks for them to get used to the drone flying over them," he explains.

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