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Ohio UAS Center Forwards Precision Ag, Sensor Research

August 25, 2015  - By
Flying at Molly Caren Agricultural Center in the Ohio State project.

Flying at Molly Caren Agricultural Center in the Ohio State project.

Clark State Community College in Springfield, Ohio, now includes flying unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) as part of its new precision agriculture program, according to the Ohio/Indiana UAS Center (UASC). The new program is designed to prepare students for employment with companies using geospatial technologies, including geographic information systems (GIS) and GPS applied to agricultural production or management activities, such as pest scouting, site-specific pesticide application, yield mapping, or variable-rate irrigation.

Clark State will process and analyze the UAS-collected data. Students will learn how fly and use UAS-gathered data to determine the overall health of crops and manage a range of farming issues, including how to spot early diseases, identify specific pest infestations, and determine fertilization requirement.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved the Certificate of Authorization (COA) for UASC earlier this year. The center is working to expand the number of FAA-approved Certificates of Authority for research across Ohio, and operates 11 COAs in support of public entities and universities with an additional 17 COAs pending at the FAA.

Ohio State Sensor Research

In another UASC project, UASC and The Ohio State University initiated regular flight operations in July at Molly Caren Agricultural Center to research various types of UAS sensors to improve agricultural productivity and enhance environmental management practices through improved nutrient use efficiency.

3D Aerial, a UAS business in Dayton, Ohio, pilots the small 1.5-lb fixed-wing aircraft for this project. Data gathered is part of a research and development effort focused on noninvasive assessment of crop health.

“This data will be analyzed and results will be used in support of research on cropping systems and assessment of environmental factors affecting crop growth,” said Scott Shearer, professor and chair of the Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Ohio State. “In addition to precision agriculture experiments, this research will help enhance water quality by better understanding how best management practices may impact surface and ground water quality.”

The UAS market is projected to be an $82 billion industry with a potential to create approximately 100,000 jobs nationally over the next 10 years.

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