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Illinois farmers hit new highs with drone technology

Drone Pilots Scouting Fields Faster with UAV's

Aug. 16, 2016

Following months of drone testing, COUNTRY Financial® is beginning to evaluate how Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle (UAV) technology can improve the claims process for customers.

The organization has licensed pilots on standby to respond to viable crop claims. So far this summer COUNTRY has sent pilots and their drones to dozens of fields throughout the state to scout for storm damage and test the new technology.

“For the farmers and landowners who have hundreds to thousands of acres, this new crop scouting technique is speeding up the search process,” said Todd Manning, a drone pilot and crop adjuster for COUNTRY. “Drones can find and locate the hot spots, so we can better determine how much damage a farmer really has.”

Once a pilot gets to the field with their drone, the pair can hover up to 400 feet above the crops and free fly while taking photos and video from the unit. The process unfolds more quickly as the camera can better locate the damage and reveal its scope.

“Prior to the use of drones, crop adjusters could have walked fields for hours and sometimes not discover problem areas at all,” Manning said. “Now a scout can determine if a field has been damaged within a matter of minutes.”

COUNTRY is among some of the first crop insurers to receive a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) exemption to test drones.

“The FAA wants to ensure drone pilots have knowledge of airspace,” Manning said.

COUNTRY pilots have hundreds of flight hours and years of experience operating manned aircraft. This is only the start of the organization’s drone usage. COUNTRY intends to expand its use of UAV technology and the number of pilots operating drones in order to continue improving the crops claims process for customers.

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