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New drone technology aims to help farmers increase crop yield

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ELGIN, Minn. (KTTC) -- There's new drone technology that might be able to help farmers work more efficiently, safely and increase their yield at the same time.

Farmers usually hire pilots who fly helicopters or airplanes to spray fungicides on their crops or spread seed. This usually happens once or twice per season.

The Hart sisters, Bekah, Sarah and Rachel, along with Rachel's husband Joe, are fourth generation farmers from Elgin and they've started a business called ABC Drones LLC, using huge drones to spray crops.

The drone they use is about about 6 feet by 6 feet, and 150 pounds when fully filled.

The Harts said it's more efficient, they have more control, and they can spray more often, which means a higher crop yield.

It's still pretty new technology, and the Hart family is only the second family in Minnesota to
use drones in this way on their farm.

"We really see this as a two-year return on investment," Sarah Hart said. "And the reason why is that we pay our helicopter to do it and he does it once a year. We think with the drones, we can spray multiple times a year. We can spray at different times."

Hart said the drone can access crops at all times of the day and in winds up tp 25 mph.

"There's something called "do the dew," she said. "So we can actually wake up early in the morning and spray when the dew is already on the crop. That's when the crop is more at its rest point and wants more of the nutrients. "

Hart said using the drones will pay off in the long run.

One drone can cost up to $45,000. It holds 5.6 gallons of liquid, and the battery lasts about 15 minutes.

Operators use its software to map its course. The drone is able to detect obstacles and flies about 12-15 feet above the crops.

The Harts do drone demonstrations on their farm. To find out more, visit their website.

KTTC

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