Oregon using drones to monitor potatoes

HERMISTON, Ore. — A meeting at the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce has focused on a new mission for the unmanned aircraft known as drones: keeping Eastern Oregon potatoes happy.

The East Oregonian reported that more than 100 guests discussed the emerging technology Tuesday at a panel discussion.

The Federal Aviation Administration recently authorized the use of drones to fly over Oregon State University potato fields in search of unhealthy plants.

Phil Hamm, director of the Oregon State extension center at Hermiston, says changes in plants aren’t necessarily obvious to humans.

But sensors with infrared light can spot what Hamm calls unhappy plants. He put the goal this way: “We want to recognize plants that aren’t happy before there’s a reduction in yield.”

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Information from: East Oregonian, http://www.eastoregonian.info

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