Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., the world’s largest corn processor, received regulatory approval from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to fly drones that will locate and assess crop damage.
Using drones will help expedite the processing of crop-insurance claims, the Chicago-based company said in a statement Wednesday.
“We are on track to have this technology in the air for our customers next year,” Greg Mills, president of ADM’s Crop Risk Services unit, which offers insurance, said in the statement.
Drones are one of the latest tools in precision agriculture, in which data is collected by satellites and sensors and analyzed to maximize farm yields.
While the FAA bans commercial drone use, it has granted exemptions to operators who track crop yields, monitor oil and gas facilities, and inspect power lines and smokestacks. To get an exemption, companies must certify that their drones will be operated by licensed pilots and that a second person observe the flights.