Twin Falls native looks to bring drone technology to the farm

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) Jeremy Cutler is the owner of Treasure Valley based company Skeye, an aerial imagery company that is looking to put an "eye in the sky" to help crops on the ground here in Idaho.

Image taken by Skeye Aerial Imagery

Cutler grew up on a farm, and is using his company to help the agriculture industry, through what's called precision agriculture. Cutler uses drone technology to produce hi-resolution pictures and maps of their fields.

"They take hundreds of pictures of the field looking straight down. and I run it through third party software that stitches it into one large image," Cutler said. "So it's like a Google map image with higher resolution"

Cutler said the technology provides farmers with real time data about their fields, and reduces the amount of time farmers take to walk and inspect their crop. His drone's use RGB photgraphy (Standard Visible Spectrum Photos) along with NIR (Near Infrared).

"It's light that your eye can't see but the camera can," Cutler said.

Those images are processed and put through a NDVI algorithm, or what's called a normalized differential vegetation index to create maps formulate data that offer farmers a real time look at crop health. Cutler said the technology is still relatively new to farmers, and there's been a slight amount of reluctance among farmers to incorporate the use of drones on the farm.

"I don't blame them for being cautious, it's taken a while for it start showing a return on investment, but we're really making some headway now," Cutler said.

Cutler's also optimistic about the role drone technology will play in the agriculture sector as time progresses, and he's not alone.

According to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, drone technology allows farmers to make adjustments on crop placement through insights gained by drone data. The association also predicts that farms will eventually account for close to 80 percent" of the commercial drone market.

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