Freedom to Fly: the New FAA Regulations and Drones for Ag


aWhere Provides Weather Data to Add Value to Agriculture- Drone Industry Insights 

                Last month, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued new regulations allowing drones to be used for select commercial purposes, including agriculture.[1]    The announcement of these new regulations[2], and the allowance of drones to be flown commercially, was a boon to the burgeoning agriculture-drone industry, which has been advancing its technology of using drones to collect images that can inform farmers of on-field conditions and influence farming decisions, from fertilizer application to irrigation.  The burgeoning investment in drone technology, including those for agricultural applications, has led Precision Ag to predict the drone market will be worth $3.69 billion by 2022[3].   As this industry continues to grow, providers will continue to find ways to better contextualize these images for farmers, opening opportunities for better understanding of crop growth and management.  One company in particular, Agribotix, has been at the forefront of the agriculture-drone industry, and is well-versed in the value of agricultural intelligence alongside drone imagery for today’s farmers.

Agribotix is an agriculture-focused, purpose-built drone company based in Boulder, CO, providing data and insights to customers in over 30 countries.  While Agribotix was developing their products, which process drone imagery for farmers, they realized that their images would become even more valuable to their customers when placed in context, by including timely weather and agronomic information.  After trying another data source, Agribotix reached out to aWhere to help them with their weather data and integration needs. 

aWhere offers highly reliable global weather data in an easy to integrate API.   The aWhere and Agribotix teams worked jointly to incorporate aWhere’s agricultural intelligence into the Agribotix platform, maximizing the value of the drone insights for customers.  Thomas Harris, VP of Software at Agribotix explained: “Having the image of drone flights along with accumulated precipitation and accumulated growing degree days is invaluable and tells a big part of the story. There is a lot of in-field variability and what is seen on the ground is not necessarily directly related to weather, but Growers who use the drones for agriculture really love the context – combining drone flight results with weather data is a winning situation.” 

This is just scratching the surface of what can be achieved by combining weather insight with imagery. A series of images will tell you what is how your crops are doing on the ground and how that’s changed between snapshots, but it’s difficult to know why solely from images.  However, by also monitoring crop growth and impactful weather events we can better explain why things are happening and begin to advise farmers on targeting solutions for the problems their fields are experiencing. Furthermore, knowing where and when to fly and what to be looking for can also be guided by aWhere’s global agricultural weather insights. 

With the news of the new FAA regulations, the agriculture-drone industry is ready to take flight.  In turn, Agribotix, with their industry experience and aWhere’s agricultural intelligence in hand, will not be left behind. 

For more information about the Agribotix and aWhere partnership, please see the attached case study.



[2] One significant change in these regulations requires drone pilots to apply for a remote pilot certificate, if over the age of 16, prior to flying drones.  This application requires completing an aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA approved testing center.  The new regulations also specify allowed flight-time windows between daylight and twilight – 30 minutes before official sunrise and 30 minutes after official sunset. Finally, the FAA added a 400-foot maximum operating altitude regulation. 


 Co-Authored by Leila Al-Hamoodah


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