New drone technology is changing the way farmers look at their crops, the cameras on the flying devices allow growers to cut some of their work in half.
Jerimiah Contreras is very passionate about drone technology, he said it is fun, but he is also helping to change the agriculture industry in the Coachella Valley.
“We’re really challenging the perception of agriculture,” Contreras said. “It is not really just about tractors and the typical farmer John with a piece of hay sticking out of his mouth, we’re talking about sensors, drones, smart tractors and very intelligent farmers.”
Contreras is sharing his interests in drones with local farm businesses. He is the owner and operator of Airgriculture Precision Aerial Data, Contreras uses the camera on a drone to analyze how the sun reflects on the leaves of a crop.
“We’re measuring the bands of light reflected from the vegetation, healthy plants reflect light differently than unhealthy plants,” Contreras said. “We’re able to cover anywhere from 50 to 200 acres in less than an hour and have that data to the farmer the next morning.”
It would require hours or days of labor for a worker to walk through an entire field to identify and determine the health of plants.
This technology comes amid changes in the industry.
The director of employment for the California Farm Bureau Federation recently told NBC Palm Springs the entire state is facing a farm worker shortage.
Contreras said the new technology can attract younger generations such as the agriculture students from the Coachella Valley High School.
Tiffany Perez is one of the students learning about the new technology, she said, “I grew up in the agriculture world and I just want to pass on my education, my passion and my love to the next generation like my grandfather did.”
Contreras said this is just the start of drone technology and looks forward to seeing how it transform the way agriculture works.
Contreras said, “To show them like hey guys there’s technology involved now, there are drones, sensors you know, I think it’s going to attract them and make them more excited to want to join the agricultural force.”