To celebrate the spirit of innovation and the visionary technology that went into the creation of the all-new 2017 Prius Prime, Toyota is honoring some unsung heroes. “Humans of the Year” are people who work behind the scenes to protect our environment. Here, we salute a future-looking scientist in the field of agricultural data collection. That might not sound too sexy until you find out that it’s all done with drones…
Greg Crutsinger is a leading expert in drone agriculture. As the Scientific Program Director at the Berkeley, California, headquarters of Parrot Drones, one of the most important drone manufacturers in the world, Greg oversees new technology to help make farming more efficient and effective. Formerly a tenure-track ecology professor at the University of British Columbia in Canada, Crutsinger flew drones to conduct his own research. Realizing that the greater quality of aerial data collected by commercially available drones could be a game-changer for the agricultural industry, Crutsinger left the career safety of academia and joined the team at Parrot.
We live in a world where food security is precariously balanced between the dual pressures of an exploding human population and climate change. Farmers need all the help they can get, and luckily for them, they’ve got a visionary scientist like Greg Crutsinger on their side.
More than just an expensive flying toy or something that can airdrop packages from Amazon onto your front porch, drones are increasingly being used by scientists in a variety of creative and unexpected manners. Some of the most fascinating extensions of drone technology can be found, for obvious reasons, in the fields of geology and agriculture. Drones can be used to accurately map farmland for greater success in crop watering and application of fertilizer and pesticides, to easily check snowpack levels, to have a look at the top of Redwood trees, to measure plant health by testing chlorophyll levels, and in novel ways that are being discovered each day by the likes of forward-thinking scientists like Greg Crutsinger.
Better data collection means more efficient farming, higher crop yields, and lower food prices for everyone. But the best way to understand how drone agriculture works is to see it in action.