Steve Morris began building unmanned aerial systems in the late 1990s with the thought that they would be useful to farmers. But now that drones are commonly linked to the military and surveillance, Morris said they are cause for “political debates and paranoia,” Chad Garland reported for The Los Angeles Times.

Drone usage might be lifted by precision agriculture, which uses high-tech systems to increase yields, while cutting costs. Scott Shearer, Ohio State University professor and precision agriculture expert, said he thinks drones will change agriculture in North America and allow producers to be more efficient.

The Federal Aviation Administration has restricted drone usage by average people mostly to recreational uses and research. Some American farmers, however, are showing interest in using drones. The devices can be programmed to perform a variety of tasks, including streaming photos and videos to a station where they can be made into maps or used to monitor crop health. They can also take soil and water samples.

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