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    Agricultural drone conference at Harper Adams

    Posted 9 December 2016

    The overall impression given by the speakers is that agricultural drones and the software required for generating application maps have come of age."

    Farmers, drone pilots and academics have attended the fourth annual Drones for Farming Conference at Harper Adams University.

    The conference was organised by the National Centre of Precision Farming (NCPF), supported by BASIS and sponsored by Bayer.

    The event included a variety of demonstrations of drone systems; including Precision Hawk’s navigation system and data analysis.

    Lectures were delivered by academics, practitioners, agronomists and farmers.

    Lee Williams, business development officer for the NCPF said: “The event was very busy this year with over 100 delegates.

    “There were four streams of different activities running concurrently, so delegates were given a lot of choice. At any one time they had the choice of two presentations to listen to or two different drone activities to participate in.

    “Presentations covered a range of topics including new drone rules regulations affecting farmers, use of drones in agriculture by academics, farmers and drone service companies working in agriculture.

    “The overall impression given by the speakers is that agricultural drones and the software required for generating application maps have come of age. Many of the technology related issues described at last year’s event have been solved. Several new commercial applications were presented which clearly demonstrated the potential of drones for farmers.

    “There were more opportunities for hands-on experiences with drones this year.

    “In the drone testing facility, delegates “piloted” the camera mounted underneath a drone so they could see the accuracy of images from the drone whilst it flew around the hall.

    “In a separate drone flight zone, delegates had a chance to win a drone by participating in the flight simulator competition. There was also a colourful aerial circuit set-up so they could practice their flying skills with a real drone.

    “The feedback we have received from presenters and delegates alike has been extremely positive and we already planning for next year.”

    Jonathan Gill, mechatronics teaching assistant and UAV pilot said: “The fourth annual drones for farming conference has once again been a great success for the NCPF with keen drone interest from the agricultural community.

    “It's amazing to see how far things have come over the years with the evolution of second generation of drones, currently being tested, pushing changes in legislation.

    “All of us in the special interest group are proud to be leading the way with the safe operation of drones our priority.”

    During his presentation, Rob Morgan from Bayer shared his concern of the public’s current attitude towards drones: “There’s footage online of someone flying a drone over the top of the Shard,” said Mr Morgan. “It takes off from Trafalgar Square and flies around central London, including along Regent Street.

    “It’s illegal to do that and extremely unsafe.

    “Drones are not toys but yet anyone can buy one.

    “There needs to be some regulation put into place, otherwise something awful will happen.”

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