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David Sparks Ph.d Robert Blair Visionary
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Line on Agriculture
Date: November 27, 2018

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Listen to the words of Robert Blair back in 2015. “From a farmer’s standpoint, that means you can fly your garden but you cannot fly your fields. Under our exemption, we also have to have a COA known as a certificate of authorization that tells us the areas that we can fly in. Those individual COA’s allow us to fly at 400 feet above ground level. There are other restrictions as well but that is one of the main ones and we also have to keep it in line of sight. The FAA also came out with a blanket COA that is allowing us to fly anywhere in the United States for any type of aerial mapping or aerial imaging purpose at a 200 foot level. The advantage of using a drone over other types of imaging platforms is that it is timely, we can be there on the spot in a more timely manner than scheduling out a week for a manned aircraft or waiting for a satellite to come around and hope you don’t have cloud cover. The other thing is cost. We have a lower cost base than other media.” Robert is a farmer from northern Idaho who advocated for drone technology very strongly, lobbied hard for some funding, and I accompanied him to an entrepreneurial meeting in Los Angeles to drum up some investment enthusiasm. The reaction was less than enthusiastic. Then I get an email from a company called Sentara. “Sentera's Quad sensor is now available in an integrated gimbal-stabilized package for DJI Inspire and Matrice drones. Featuring four fully-customizable and individually-filtered focal plane arrays, the Quad sets the standard for data accuracy and ease-of-use. Lock and Go™ technology provides simple, snap-in installation to the drone and actively stabilizes the optics to true nadir, optimizing productivity while capturing high-precision, low-distortion vegetative health data. Image products are compatible with most standard stitching and GIS tools.” There was a video showing what looked like an infrared before and after of a field with the before looking all yellow and red meaning unhealthy crops in the after all green. My take away… Robert Blair was a visionary.


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