FARMING MATTERS: Drone technology is expanding on farms

Aerial surveying in Northamptonshire. Photography courtesy of Graymatter Media
Aerial surveying in Northamptonshire. Photography courtesy of Graymatter Media

The use of drone technology for farming and land management is becoming increasingly relevant and widespread, providing a valuable new technology for surveying, monitoring and mapping.

But new technology brings with it a bundle of new risks and responsibilities and Baroness Sugg, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, announced a number of new measures last November that are expected to come into force this year.

Drone operation, with or without a camera, raises issues of privacy, can cause nuisance and disturbance, and in the event of failure, recklessness or incompetence, can cause potential damage to individuals, property and stock for example.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has published a Drone Code and this year will see the introduction of new laws, guidance, permissions and licencing. There is recognition however that any necessary restrictions should not stifle the potential of drone technology..

Currently anyone operating a drone commercially must have a Permission for Commercial Operation from the CAA, having completed a course and demonstrated the required level of airman ship, and being properly insured.

For recreational use, no drone can be flown within 150m of a congested area (ie only over empty countryside), or within 50m of any person or object not within the operator’s control.

The following measures have been proposed: that all drones should be electronically identifiable; any drone of more than 250grams is required to be registered; and all drones with cameras should be regulated and require permission from the CAA to fly.

Mike Jones, senior manager at Saffery Champness chartered accountants, said: “From a tax and management perspective, farms and estates can use this technology to provide photographic or video evidence of properties which can assist with tenancy issues as well as being useful in monitoring repairs carried out on property.”