The Federal Aviation Administration recently granted a regulation exemption that will allow 1 person to operate 3 drones in a swarm. While some see this as a big win from a productivity standpoint since it has the potential to make cover crop drone seeing more efficient, others see it as a massive safety concern. Here’s Watertown, Wis., crop and livestock management consultant John Pernat sharing his first-hand experience of why he’s not so sure it’s a good idea.

“I’ve been in the agricultural field my whole life. From power washing equipment back in the day, to loading hay — physically demanding work. Hold this for 10 hours, knowing that if you screw up, it’s not going to be a good day. The mental aspect of flying one of these — and I’m no genius by any means — but the responsibility that is wearing on you all day, between you and your co-pilot or you and your neighbor is actually more physically demanding than bailing hay. I’d rather unload hay for 18 hours than operate 3 of these at once. I’ve done 2 of these at once just as a training. No way will I ever do 3. It’s foolish to even think about it. So, 1 Guy in the field, trying to operate 3 of these without a co-pilot, trying to keep 3 of these fed, you’re just asking for trouble. I just feel it’s unnecessary. 2 of these out there flying at once, we’ll back the acre rate down, that’s 80 acres an hour, plus moving, plus liquid, plus keeping track of your chemicals, plus the paperwork. I like the idea, but I will not run after having the experience last year of having a pilot pass out. Now you have 2 of these out there with 1 guy and nobody to take care of him? And they’re out there hovering around? I don’t like that safety idea.”

While the new regulation exemption has the potential to make seeding cover crops with drones more efficient, Pernat brings up valid concerns about safety. And if you have your own thoughts on the issue, we’d love to hear them so feel free to send us a message.