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Drones could be buzziest helpers for Arizona farmers in near future

PHOENIX — Drones could soon be buzzing over some of Arizona’s farms.

“Drones could play an important role in the future of his companies,” said Tim Dunn, owner and president of Tim Dunn Farms and Dunn Grain Company in Yuma, Arizona.

The unmanned aircraft could be used to take images of crops and help identify problems, he said.

“The imagery will have different colors in it, so it will have resolution that shows water stress or plant stress,” said Dunn.

Paired with specialized software the images could identify stressors such as a lack of water or too much fertilizer, Dunn said.

In the past, Dunn relied on satellite images. The drone will be more cost effective and provide images much faster.

The usage of drones could be an important customer service tool.

As a distributor of grain, Dunn would have the ability to identify problems on his customer’s fields, he said.

“When we actually have these (grain) varieties out to the public for other farmers, we’ll be able to fly those fields and say, ‘you know, it’s more pinpointed to your crop,'” said Dunn.

Drones will not entirely replace other methods of ensuring that crops are healthy, but could prove to be valuable tools of the trade for farmers, he said.

Dunn expects to obtain his first drone this week.