Thursday, April 23, 2015

ADM drones to check farmers’ fields

Archer Daniels Midland Co. plans to use drones to gather data on crop insurance claims as soon as the summer of 2016, its risk services head told Reuters news agency.

ADM's Crop Risk Services Inc. won clearance to use drones earlier this month from the Federal Aviation Administration, which currently bans their commercial use, and will begin testing the technology in the U.S. Midwest this year.

The unmanned aircraft can gather data about crop damage from hail, wind, flooding and drought, and automatically upload the information to the company's claims software, Greg Mills, president of ADM CRS, said in a telephone interview.

The company is one of a small number of businesses with agriculture connections, including Monsanto Co's Climate Corp and Trimble Navigation Ltd, that have received exemptions to the FAA's ban on commercial use.

Meanwhile, it’s no secret that the Canadian Wheat Board has used satellites for decades to check crop acreages and conditions in all of the nations where it has markets and competitors.