Here’s how the GeoBlu Explorer works. The UAV is outfitted with four motors and can take off from the side of a field. It flies over the crop as low or high as desired. The two on-board cameras capture imagery data which can be viewed real time onsite with video display goggles or a ground-station monitor, or later for off-site viewing.

The data is recorded on a SD card which can be downloaded to create prescription field maps. The grower or consultant can make knowledgeable decisions based on the data findings.

The GeoBlu Explorer is gaining popularity in agricultural circles. It was selected as a Top-10 New Product during the 2014 World Ag Expo in Tulare, Calif. in February.

The GeoBlu Explorer is also an option for livestock producers. It can provide cattle head counts by air and monitor animal behavior.

The UAV could be a good fit for the insurance industry, including insurance tied to agriculture. The helicopter’s ‘bird’s eye view’ could accurately assess crop damage after a major weather event – drought, flood, or tornado, for example. If the producer has insurance, the UAV data could help insurance companies more accurately determine claims.

In Arizona alone, the GeoBlu Explorer has gathered information on cotton, corn, citrus, and other crops. The gathered data has directed growers and crop consultants to apply more water to crops and apply needed herbicide treatments.

During a University of Arizona Cooperative Extension field day, discussion focused on stinkbug damage in a field of Upland cotton near harvest. Extension staff scouted the field for pests. The GeoBlu Explorer flew overhead to glean information to help the grower make good management decisions.

Perhaps one of the questions about flying a remote helicopter over a large field is what if there is a loss of signal to the unit - how could you bring it back? A ‘return home’ function built into the unit directs the UAV back to the operator’s ‘home position’ to land.

In addition, the UAV can upload GPS or Google Earth data to compute flight path coordinates and automatic flight routes. The operator can enter specific routes, speeds, altitudes, and hover when needed.