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Purdue students launch agricultural drone startup


In farming, we have to trust our eyes, our instincts, and our technology. The fact that people are out there trying to improve ag technology on a daily basis is important — the fact that people are doing it at a young age speaks to the future of our industry.

At Purdue University, students have launched a startup called Aerial Agriculture LLC. The goal, according to the school, is to build drones in-house to capture multispectral images of crop fields. Special cameras on the drones convert the images into vegetation indexes that represent crop health.

The expectation is that the technology will allow farmers to reduce excess fertilizer and input costs while simultaneously increasing yields.

“Our technology can pinpoint crop areas that need more attention, which allows farmers to then apply more inputs and address potential crop issues immediately, as opposed to after the fact,” said Austin Deardorff, Aerial Agriculture co-founder and a student in Purdue’s College of Engineering. “We expect our clients to get a full return on their investment, if not make money from using our service.”

Aerial Agriculture has received funding through various sources at the Purdue Foundry, an entrepreneurship and commercialization accelerator. The team took first place and $5,000 at Purdue’s Boiler Mini-Accelerator Competition earlier this year.

Other members of the startup include Justin Kinney, Tyler Landers, Justin Sutcliff, Taylor Wetli, Angelo DeFlora, Suzanne Bagnoli and Paul Pratt, all undergraduate students in the College of Engineering.

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