New Farming Technology Taking Flight in Oregon


A three foot wide spiderlike helicopter is well on its way to revolutionizing nursery agriculture in Oregon for good. The J. Frank Schmidt & Son Nursery, one of the state’s largest, provided the initial grant funding and brought together the team of agriculture experts and researchers (including several from OSU) that are working on the drone right here in Oregon.

This little helicopter is loaded with advanced GPS technology that sends the machine to a pre-programmed point and uses the digital camera hanging from its abdomen to capture pictures of the potted trees below. The swiveling camera takes high quality pictures from 80 feet up that are easily downloaded onto a software program that identifies and counts the potted trees; saving  farmers an enormous amount of time, money and overall resources.

Even more than that, the robot is also programmed to detect diseases, look for irrigation or fertilizer problems, detect places where a fence may need repairing, diameter, predict crop yield, and many more helpful functions.

So far, the craft is able to stay aloft for a maximum of 40 minutes while carrying 5 pounds of camera gear. The machine is projected to cost anywhere between $7,000 to $10,000 making this new technology a reasonable possibility for most nursery owners.

The product has been flight-tested at nurseries in Canby, Yamhill and Boring, and will continue to be tested before it hits the market.