Drones and the California Drought

Drones and the California Drought

California is unique to the world. Perhaps no other place on the planet is at such a confluence of technology, wealth, entertainment, and dealing with a drought that could prove to be the largest natural catastrophe to hit the United States….ever…

While the news about the staggering and downright scary drought situation in California leaves some in denial, many in California will not sit on the sidelines long without thinking “outside the box” for a solution, or at least a measure to curtail the grim reports that this drought could mean on California, and the nation’s economy for that matter.

Drones could be a valuable tool in seeding clouds and bringing rain to places where drought conditions can persist for months, and in California for years. Here’s an excerpt from the Washington Post:

Even as farmers look to move some crops indoors to extend the growing season and adapt to a changing climate, others hope to coax more water from unconventional sources, such as clouds. Cloud seeding — the firing of silver iodide into the cloud layer to stimulate precipitation — typically relies on ground-based launchers or manned aircraft to distribute the chemical. But with the rise of unmanned aerial systems, researchers dream doing cloud seeding cheaply and easily — with drones.

Scientists in Nevada are currently evaluating such systems in the state’s federally approved testing site. It’s not clear when they might start flying; the Federal Aviation Administration only recently began offering exemptions to its commercial drone ban on a case-by-case basis. But the agricultural industry isn’t sitting still; already, a handful of drone operators have petitioned the government for agricultural exemptions. And large agricultural associations, such as the American Farm Bureau and the National Agricultural Aviation Association, have also lobbied Congress on the matter of unmanned systems.