The FAA has Started to Grant Permits to Agricultural Companies for UAV Use in Crop Monitoring

Earlier this month, the FAA granted a permit to allow the use of an unmanned aerial vehicle, a.k.a. "drone" in an agricultural application. The FAA has granted Advanced Aviation Solutions a permit to operate a UAV for purposes of performing crop scouting and to take photographic measurements from above. The FAA still limits the general use of UAVs in agricultural applications. Current rules state that unmanned aerial vehicles are not permitted to fly above 400 feet and must remain in the line of sight of the operator.

The United States has lagged behind other developed countries in the development and application of unmanned aerial vehicle technologies in the commercial sector. The biggest reason that the commercialization of drones has failed to “take off” in the United States is a lack of clear guidance from the FAA on regulations that would allow the widespread commercial application of these technologies.

As the FAA continues to issue special use permits, we may be inching closer and closer to large scale rule changes that allow for the commercial proliferation of UAVs in agricultural applications as well as the larger business sector. However, even with the FAA granting special permits on a case by case basis, they are still leaving substantial restrictions in place. For example, the two special permits granted earlier this month still require that the drone operations must have both a pilot and a second observer, the pilot must have an FAA Private Pilot certificate as a minimum and a current medical certificate, and the vehicle must only be flown within line of sight.

Continue to follow the Goosmann Law Firm Ag Law Blog for the most up-to-date information on the evolving regulatory framework surrounding the commercialization and proliferation of unmanned aerial vehicles or contact us at or (712) 226-4000.

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