Feed Lot

DEC 2017

Feedlots and cow/calf operations in the beef industry who feed 500 or more has annually on grains and concentrates; maintain 500 or more beef cows; backgrounder, stocker/grower, preconditioner; veterinarian, nutritionist, consultant

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FEED•LOT  December 2017 9 Regulations T here are some rules people n eed to be aware of when using drones. The governing authority is the Federal Aeronautics Adminis- tration (FAA). In August 2016 the FAA published a new set of rules governing the use of small un- manned aerial systems (sUAS) which are defined as drones that are less than 55 pounds total weight (the drone plus any sensors attached to it). "Anything under 55 pounds falls under those Part 107 rules. You have to be a certified UAS pilot to do any commercial work with drones. Hobbyists also have to reg- ister their drones, but don't have to be a certified drone pilot." To fly a working drone (in a business, or hired by a farmer or rancher) you need to be certified. "A rancher or feedlot operator flying his or her own drone for checking animals would not fall under the hobby category; this use has commercial value so you need to be certified as a sUAS pilot," ex- plains Auvermann. "These drones can only operate below 400 feet and must remain in unaided line of sight. You can't rely on binoculars or additional people. The drone can't leave the visual line of sight of the person operating it (the pilot). It is good to have ad- ditional observers, but this is not required," he says. "These drones can only fly in Class G airspace, a definition that refers to airspace that is not under the control of an airport control tower. Most Class G airspace is out- side the 5 mile radius of the nearest airport that has a control tower," he explains. Part of the training to get a sUAS pilot's license is learning how to read aeronautical charts to know where Class G airspace is. Then you wouldn't accidentally fly your drone too close to an airport. "Ig- norance is no excuse if a drone strays into controlled airspace without authorization," he says. According to current regula- tions these drones cannot fly at night, and nighttime is defined the same way it is for hunting regula- tions—30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sundown. Vis- ibility is inadequate during that time between sundown and sun- rise. "You can get waivers to fly at night but you must specifically re- quest and obtain them before you fly. You can also get a waiver to fly in other classes of airspace if you get the right permission," says Au- vermann. If you had a calving or feedlot situation in a certain area you wanted to monitor, you could get a waiver to fly at night. "Some things like animal temper- ature will be easier to pick up at night," he says. A drone at night could be a useful tool that might help a feedlot pen rider or someone monitoring a large calving opera- tion. The drone can provide another "set of eyes" with a good view that may enable you to detect something you might otherwise miss. Some of the thermal imaging hardware, however, falls under what is known as Export Con- trolled Hardware, which gets the State Department involved. "We are trying to avoid high technology (that could be used for nefarious purposes) falling into the wrong hands. If you want a drone with a high resolution thermal camera on it, this will be an Export Controlled purchase. Vendors are well aware of this and you have to go through certain steps," he says. Every drone, whether for hobby or other purposes, must be regis- tered with the FAA. This new tool may be of use for many farmers and ranchers in the future, simply requiring a bit of homework and abiding by the regulations. Flight Duration "Most of the flights we do with a rotary drone have a maximum duration of 20 to 25 minutes be- cause batteries are heavy. The more power you need (to operate the drone, sensors, etc.) the more batteries you need and the heavier the drone will be. These short flights can be very useful however. We are excited about drone tech- nology and plan to use it with live- stock as well as crop applica- tions," says Auvermann. FL John Walker uses his drone to check his cattle.

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