June 16, 2024

Farming with drones

Members of the Chamber of Commerce pose outside the new Precision Crop Flight sign during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The company's drone sits on the grass in front of the ribbon, which is bing cut by Gavin Gillam.

With the nature of agriculture constantly evolving, being ahead of the technology curve is important to be profitable and to take advantage of new improvements. This is central to Precision Crop Flight, which will be utilizing a drone for precision spraying.

Sprays used for improving crop quality and acting as a pesticide are often spread over a large area, which can lead to some smaller areas not receiving suitable attention. In Iowa, this happens because of rolling hills and uneven terrain which can cause ground rig sprayers to miss areas. With drones, a more precise system helps give all crops the care they need, increasing the total yield.

Precision Crop Flight is now operational in Creston after a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday. A new billboard, which faces toward the east side of Highway 34′s slice through town, guides those interested to one name behind the business, Gavin Gillam.

Gillam was born and raised in Creston, graduating high school in 2020, and has returned to help further a business founded and owned by his uncle with a new Creston chapter. The ribbon-cutting also gave a first look at the single drone the company will be using, a large gasoline-powered drone, a sharp difference to the small battery-powered toys one might imagine.

Precision agriculture has grown along with new technology, and the inclusion of drones is a part of a new wave. In 2021, The Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll found 21% of farmers in Iowa use drones for more precise farming. Iowan farmers have been embracing the new wave, with 66% of all Iowan farmers using precision tools, from GPS monitors to satellite imagery.

Precision Crop Flight bringing drones to farmers in the Creston area will hopefully help farmers looking for a way to use an emerging technology without spending an exorbitant amount on a drone of their own.

The business’ drone holds five gallons of gasoline which can cover 2.5 acres per flight. This process can be tedious, but can help farmers take care of difficult areas without additional time or labor.

Offerings for farmers depends on the crop and and type of spray, with a generic spray and fungicide costing $25 an acre for corn and $27 an acre for soybeans. A premium option is $33 an acre.

The drone can also help in other instances as well, killing algae in nearby ponds or herbicide application to fight against weeds.

Gillam is already impressed in how the drones function. “It’s crazy how accurate it is,” he said.

Getting the business off the ground is the first step for Gillam as he hopes to cover up to 600 acres a day. Staying ahead of the technological curve by offering services to local farmers will depend on how willing farmers are to accept the idea.

Any questions or inquiries can be answered by consulting with Gillam, who operates out of his home, at 641-202-3816.

Nick Pauly

News Reporter for Creston News Advertiser. Raised and matured in the state of Iowa, Nick Pauly developed a love for all forms of media, from books and movies to emerging forms of media such as video games and livestreaming.