SCALE, Southeast Crops and Livestock Expo, hosted about 200 visitors at the LCC Wellness Center this past Friday, February 3rd. The event was sponsored by Colorado State University Extension, LCC and KVAY Radio.
The day long expo/trade show was comprised of three areas of interest in the agricultural world, starting with financial information delivered by CSU and FSA representatives, climate impact on agriculture, presented by Nolan Doesken, State Climatologist Atmospheric Science and the third and final topic, drones or unmanned aircraft systems, presented by Daniel Melia from western Kansas.
Some of the topics covered included: Market Outlook and Breakeven Analysis for Crops and Livestock, Farm Service Agency topics which offered information on loans, Farm Storage Facility loans and crop insurance. Doesken, who has been employed by CSU since 1977 and was appointed State Climatologist in 2006, presented information regarding climate monitoring and long-term climate trends focusing on precipitation. Several years ago, he established a volunteer rain gauge network to track and map the local variations in northern Colorado precipitation. The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow network has nearly 20,000 volunteers in all 50 states and Canada.
The third presentation was devoted to emerging technology from unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), presented by Daniel Melia, which is the use of drones in farming and ranching. If anyone watched the American Flag which was behind Lady Gaga during the Super Bowl halftime show, you saw several hundred red, white and blue drones, preprogrammed by Intel, to fly above the football field during portions of her performance. Melia owns Roboflight Systems, LLC, which provides drone services and sales to the agriculture sector. Three different sized drones were displayed with prices ranging from $899 up to almost $10,000 depending on the size of the drone and scope of operation it can deliver. Melia termed, ‘precision farming’ for what the drones can provide, whether an aerial view of an unhealthy band of wheat in a several hundred acre field, to detailed views of a leaking valve on a center pivot irrigation system. “We can get to within a couple of feet of the problem with the drone to decide what type of repair tools and parts we’ll need on the job, even while we’re a mile away from the field from our vehicle,” he explained. He said the view allowed him to decide what kind of tools and parts he’d need to carry to the exact point of the problem in a field of nine foot tall corn. He explained that different types of spectral camera lenses allow the user to determine the need for more or less nitrogen to be applied to a specific point in a field.
About 16 vendors were on hand through the day which saw as many as two hundred participants attend the SCALE expo.
By Russ Baldwin
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