Local drone company growing faster than the corn
PEORIA, Ill. — The 61% of Illinois’ corn crop is ready for harvest, but local farmers are not digging in just yet.
The AG Department’s Crop Progress and Condition Report also says 55% of the crop is in good-to-excellent condition, and some of those stalks are 8-9 feet high.
Now some farmers are reaching new heights, going up-and-over their stalks, to find problems before harvest.
McLean County farmer Brett Haas has always been fascinated by flight.
One day, while flying a drone over one of his fields, Brett’s curiosity was elevated.
“After seeing that technology and what we could see from the air, we definitely saw a desire to use that technology on our own farms,” Haas explained.
But Haas found out that was easier said that done.
“The problem was we couldn’t find anybody locally or that knew anything about agriculture that we could purchase one from, so we decided to just build one ourselves” Haas said.
And that’s how Haas and his friend Matt Barnard wound up starting a company called Crop Copter.
Last year they sold about a hundred UAV’s to farmers. This year that number will double.
“Crop insurance adjusting has become a lot easier,” said Crop Insurance Specialist Nathan Ehrhardt.
Nathan Ehrhardt hires Haas to help him determine crop damage for the insurance company he represents.
“Before we’d spend a lot of time,” Ehrhardt said. “Say we had an 80-acre field, we’d have to walk that entire field to assess the damage. With these UAV’s and drones its made our job a lot more efficient and easier.”
In fact, Ehrhardt says in one case, a recent appraisal by air showed twice the damage as one done on the ground. That meant a bigger reimbursement for the farmer.
Haas thinks there’s room for his business to take off even more. There are only about twenty companies like his nationwide that focus on agriculture.
“I hope Crop Copter continues to be the voice of the farmer in the Ag/UAV market. That’s really our goal.” Haas said when asked where he sees his company in ten years.
And it appears the sky’s the limit.
Haas says the average price of one of his drones is between four and five thousand dollars.