CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – The effects of a drought in Iowa are likely to worsen. Cedar Rapids is about ten inches behind the average, Iowa City is more than seven inches behind, and Dubuque is more than three inches behind.

An eastern Iowa farmer says he’s using a new technique to help him grow his crops.

Linn County farmer John Erie said this planting season got off to a great start. It was so dry that crops went into the ground, but the dry conditions stuck there.

“It’s definitely out of the ordinary,” he said.

Some areas have received less than half of the 10-year average rainfall, he said. This year he tried something new, using drones to spray pesticides on some of his fields.

“The drone is good for small farms,” ​​he said. “It’s not as fast, you can’t cover that many acres in an hour anyhow, but the drone works really well for getting into those smaller areas.”

A company called Hylio designs and sells drones that are programmed to spray fields without a pilot.

“Drones have a third dimension, the Z-axis, because they have that freedom, they can fly over the crop,” said Arthur Erickson, Hylio’s CEO.

Erickson said drones use less water, which is about one-tenth of what spraying is done by planes because the drones can be more targeted. Drones allow farmers to spray their fields immediately after a storm.

“Being able to use one-tenth of the water is obviously great from a sustainability perspective, but at the same time, it’s also nice to be able to go out and spray crops when there’s not that much resource available,” Erickson said. “

These new pieces of technology are a way for farmers to continue caring for their crops during a very difficult growing season.

“Sometimes you go out on the street and stuff looks bad,” he said. “You go down 23 miles and you can see where it’s suffering from a lack of rain.”

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