Drones, those spying eyes in the sky, have long been an integral part of the government’s effort to locate (and sometimes take out) suspected terrorists. In the future, however, those tiny unmanned aircraft may be an equally important part of vineyard management, says Jeff Lorton, an economic development manager for Yamhill County in Oregon.


Lorton and others believe that UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) could have myriad agricultural uses, according to reports in the ag publication, Capital Press. When flown over vineyards they could isolate and map areas that are damaged or diseased, that lack proper irrigation, and are more or less fertile. Larger UAVs could disperse fertilizer or pesticides over specific areas with greater accuracy than current methods, something reportedly already being tested in the Napa Valley.


Drone-maker 3D Robotics is currently working with farmers to develop agriculture-specific drones, which someday could become as much of a grape grower’s equipment as sprayers, harvesters and trimmers. And drones’ economic impact may not be limited just to wine growers, but could also help lure software engineers and other technology types to those areas.