A group of Arizona growers were like ‘kids in a toy store’ last fall during a precision agriculture remote helicopter field demonstration at a cotton field.

The growers watched as Jared Siegler placed video-display goggles over his eyes, picked up a remote controller-transmitter, and guided a quadcopter outfitted with two cameras across a cotton field searching for crop problems.

The demonstration showcased Siegler’s product – the 24-inch-wide GeoBlu Explorer - an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) which can capture quick aerial snapshots of what’s right and wrong in farm fields – the small and large fields alike.

“The GeoBlu Explorer allows you to aerially survey a field or block quickly for signs of problems,” Siegler says, “including pest and disease issues, weeds, crop stress levels, water and fertility variation, and more.”

Siegler owns GeoBlu Services based in Phoenix, Ariz. Information collected by an UAV, he says, is sufficient to write a ‘prescription’ for crop protection products.

“The GeoBlu Explorer is less expensive and easier than hiring a commercial flying service to survey fields, and perhaps is more effective than scouting a field by foot or truck,” he says.

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For the grape industry, Siegler says the UAV can serve as a crop assessment tool in hilly areas where walking steep hillsides can be difficult and dangerous. 

“Now there is a precision ag tool which can make the job much safer,” says Siegler.

The inventor stopped short of calling the UAV a ‘drone.’ Public perception sometimes ties drones to aircraft which carry missiles or other weapons which is not the case with Siegler’s UAV.