By Nicole Heslip, Brownfield Ag News

An ag technology specialist says drone technologies will be more readily available for commercial agriculture in Missouri this year because of new regulations from the Federal Aviation Administration. Chad Colby with Colby Ag Tech says the FAA has simplified the process to become a registered drone operator and the technology is becoming more affordable.

Drones expected to be more common among Missouri farmers in 2017

“You can buy a great drone today for a couple thousand dollars that is amazing and three or four years ago it might have cost you $10,000 and not have the same technologies,” says Colby.

He says one of the best returns on the investment is more balance for family time.

“You drive by that 80 acre field and you’re trying to get home for your son or daughter’s baseball game in the middle of summer, you can throw a drone up in the air really quick, get a birds-eye view of that field,” says Colby. “Whether you’re using some advanced sensors or not, take that data back in the pickup truck and in two or three minutes determine ‘Oh my gosh, what am I looking at out in the field?’”

Missouri has more than 100,000 farms covering two-thirds of the state’s total land acreage.

Colby says if drone operators are going to charge for their services they need to register at