Neighbours complain as more Red Deer County farmers use drones

Many farmers and ranchers are using drones to monitor crops, identify best seeding areas, and cut down on pollution from larger vehicles but neighbours are complaining to Red Deer County.

Drone use in the county is here to stay but there are rules and regulations that must be followed by drone operators, says the county.

Drone use is regulated by Transport Canada. This federal agency splits drone use into two categories: basic operations and advance operations. Most users fall into the “basic” category.

In order to stay within this classification you must: 

  • Fly the drone in uncontrolled airspace (visit https:// nrc.canada.ca/en/drone-tool/ to determine if you are in uncontrolled airspace). 
  • Fly it more than 30 metres (100 feet) horizontally away from bystanders. 
  • Never fly it directly over bystanders. 

If one or more of these items do not apply, it means you are operating under advanced criteria.

This means an operator must: 

  • Register your drone with Transport Canada before you fly it for the first time. 
  • Mark your drone with its registration number. 
  • Pass the Small Advanced Exam. 
  • Pass a flight review with a flight reviewer. 
  • Be able to show your Pilot Certificate – Advanced Operations and proof of registration when you fly your drone. 
  • Seek permission from air traffic control (likely NAV CANADA) to fly in controlled airspace (request an RPAS Flight Authorization from NAV CANADA). 
  • Fly within the operational limits of your drone. 

There is also different criteria for “micro” drones that weigh under 250 g. This can be found at the Transport Canada website.

“The potential for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) in the improvement of sustainable agriculture is huge,” according to Precision Ag. “Already the agriculture drone market is predicted to be worth U.S. $32.4 billion – an indication that the industry is beginning to recognize the benefits over more traditional methods, such as ground mapping.” 

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