Tanner Stroup (28), co-owner of Stroup Farms in Maceo, has already won two state yield titles, one of which was the 2022 H & R Agri-Power Irrigated Corn Traveling Trophy. He managed to irrigate well enough during a drought to win, and now he is using that same kind of forward-thinking by investing in a drone to spray his crops.
From the age of 12, he has been involved in farming in Hancock and Daviess counties, and currently runs Stroup Farms in partnership with his father, Randy Stroup (owner of First Class Services), along with his sister, Cessilee Blair, and his wife, Sarah. They raise corn, wheat and soybeans, on around 6,300 acres.
Tanner recently decided to switch from spraying the crops with a ground rig, to using a DGI-T40 drone that he purchased from H & R Agri-Power in Owensboro. It is operated through GPS and has Google Maps built into the controller.
The $35,000-$40,000 investment in the new equipment, he said, will save money in the long-run. “It’s less crop damage when you’re not running through it with a ground rig,” Tanner said, “the tires aren’t running through it. There’s no compaction. Plus, if it rains and it’s too wet to get a ground rig through, we can still go through and spray it with this (the drone). Hopefully, this gives us another tool we can use to optimize the crop.
We’ll make a boundary on the maps the night before and drop pins along the boundary, and then we’ll come out here and take off. It makes an A B line to guide on, and it won’t go further than the boundary. If it runs into a tree or something, it’ll make you take over the control before you hit it. It has a safety on it. It’ll return back to me, and I put a fresh battery in it, and put new chemical in it and send it back off.”
Tanner said that, with using the drone, the chemical is being pushed right into the ground, and that it’s more efficient, especially on windy days.His first attempt using the drone was with spraying fungicide on his 50-acre wheat field. Trey Whitt, Precision Ag Specialist at H & R Agri-Power was there helping them get set-up and showing Tanner’s employee, Braden Borman, the ins and outs, as he will be the drone operator moving forward.
“We’re all learning together,” Tanner said. “They claim it’ll spray 56 acres an hour, but I think it’s going to be more like 30-35 acres an hour.”
Braden explained the process of mapping the coordinates.“This morning at the shop,” he said, “I zoomed it in on the map, and then I go and put property markers around. When I get here, I can click on this farm, and it puts all of the A B lines in for me. That is just your straight rows, and then the drone will fly itself after I get it off the ground.”
Once the location is plotted, then they can zoom in on the device. A farmer can look at the map from his kitchen, for instance, and look around his entire farm. When the coordinates are placed, then they can click on the field and decide where they want to put their poles in and plot those. That is, essentially, how they map-out the field.