By Mengmeng Gu, Ph.D.
Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Resources
THE WEEK BEFORE Thanksgiving
2016, we submitted a grant proposal titled “Risk management for current and potential users of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), an emerging technology” to the Southern Extension Risk Management Education Center. I coauthored the proposal with James Robbins, Ph.D., project director, from the University of Arkansas-Cooperative Extension Service; and Joe Mari Maja, Ph.D., from Clemson University. We also had Rusty Rumley from National Agricultural Law Center, housed at the University of Arkansas. After the submission I just forgot about it. There is absolutely nothing you can do after the submission. You will be notified of one of the two results: funded or not. I choose to forget about it. Either rejection of funding comes as expected or approval of funding comes as a surprise. Then came the surprise. We were notified that our project was funded. That meant we need to do what we promised: Put on five workshops in 2018 in conjunction with the Academy of Crop Production (Athens, Ga.), Beltwide Cotton Conference (San Antonio), Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (Chattanooga, Tenn.), Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference (Savannah, Ga.), and the
TNLA Green March/April 2019
National Association of County Agricultural Agents (Chattanooga, Tenn.). The Academy of Crop Production was canceled, but AmericanHort invited us, twice — to the Technology Conference in Dallas and to Cultivate2018 in Columbus, Ohio. That was a total of six four-hour workshops on small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) in four states. In those four hours we covered UAS basics, liability and risk, pilot certification and aircraft registration, types of aircraft,
types of sensors, software, workflow, image processing, and agricultural applications of UAS. A total of 351 people registered for our workshops, although not all showed up. Overall, the participants gave us a rating of 4.6 out of 5. Ninety-nine percent thought our information would help them reduce financial risk, and 100 percent improved their confidence in adopting sUAS technology. If you didn’t get to attend any of the six workshops, you can access recorded