Drones: Pros and Cons on the Farm

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Every day Mark Liebaert treks across his 600 acres of land checking on his 85 head, the main source of income on his farm.

“Our farm is spread out three quarters of a mile in one direction and three quarters of a mile almost to a mile in the other direction,” he said. “Of course, most of the time when I move cattle or check cattle I’m checking them on either on a 4-wheeler in the summer time or if I’m doing something else I’ll be on a tractor in the winter maybe.”

But imagine managing those 600 acres with the help from a flying machine.

“If I had a drone it would be easy to send the drone over and find out if the cows got water, and make sure everything’s okay and that the fence is on because the cows are in,” said Liebaert.

He says drones could help out with planning.

“This actually might be a tool that you could use where you could plan to see where the cattle are and where they’re going to be tomorrow, and you hate to say it, you probably do it from the house,” said Liebaert.

He believes the benefits are unlimited to crop farmers.

“They could find out if they need fertilizer, they could find out if they needed to have herbicides or pesticides put on, they could find out what’s going on the field, how the growth is.”

While these added conveniences are certainly attractive, Liebaert has concerns like losing the hands-on way farmers operate.

“Farmers get their toes in the mud basically and their fingers in it, and they know how everything works by feel. Although there’s a lot of science in it, there’s still a lot of art in it,” he said.

There is a chance farmers could lose the day-to-day relationships built outdoors and miss out on the chance to pass down tradition.

“It also kind of scares me that instead of my grandkids having to walk out in that field to check how high the grass is and kind of feel how the field is and just kind of enjoy being a farmers,” said Liebaert.

There is also the fear of being replaced.

“By a guy in a suit coat who could run it basically from an office somewhere. He runs a drone out and then he hires somebody to go out and do the work he spotted needs to be done,” said Liebaert.

With hunting season around the corner, he worries drones could be used as an unfair advantage to scout game and take away from the art of the sport. 

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