Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Blair Accepts Precision Ag Farmer of the Year
Blair Accepts Award
Springfield, Illinois--Robert Blair was awarded the Precision Agriculture Farmer of the Year by Paul Schrimpf of Meister Media at ceremonies held this past week in Springfield, Illinois.
Blair is not the typical Idaho dryland farmer. He cuts corners as much as he can, and uses high tech shortcuts to save money. Thats why got involved with Precision Agriculture.
Precision Ag is the concept of doing the right thing, in the right place, in the right way, at the right time. It requires using new technologies, like global positioning devices, aerial photos, and information management software to assess and understand gathered farm data. He told the crowd back in Illinois that its about productivity.
“We get a 10-percent increase in productivity just from the timing of an application; the proper placement can keep crops from drying up. So committing to these practices we’re spending less and producing more—we’ve seen as much as 10 percent, that’s huge,” said BlairIn addition to farming 1,500 acres of wheat, peas, lentils, garbanzos, alfalfa and cows, he taught the precision ag lab at the University of Idaho during the 2008 fall semester and has also started a precision ag business called PineCreek Precision.
The company is centered on Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) – small, autopilot-controlled planes (less than 20 pounds) that can be used to gather imagery. Blair, the first farmer in the United States to own and fly a UAS on his own farmland, decided to make a prototype airframe in 2008.
Today he is a national leader in the promotion of UAS for agriculture, and is the first person in the U.S. to file a petition to the FAA for commercial use. Not even Boeing, Lockheed, or other aircraft businesses or organizations had done that. He has traveled on his own dime to Washington, D.C. to try to make commercial UAS rules that are sensible for end users. He has spoken around the country at different venues on UAS use in agriculture.
Robert is a board member of the Idaho Grain Producers Association, Lewiston Chamber Ag Committee, U of I/WSU Legume Virus Project, Idaho Farm Bureau LASR Committee, Nez Perce County Farm Bureau President, CEO Coalition on Transportation member, Governor Otter’s Kitchen Cabinet (Advisory Group), IGPA Alliance for Rail Competition National Representative, and taught the precision ag lab at the University of Idaho.
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