Can I Push Cows With a Small Airplane?

I have been part of several meetings where we asked agriculturalists to identify potential uses of UAS, or Unmanned Aerial Systems for agricultural applications. Most of the suggestions are consistent; scouting, biomass measurement, precision pesticide mapping, checking remote fields, etc. The experts tell me we are just scratching the surface of possible uses in agriculture. The more I learn about these systems, the stronger I believe their projections.

One application I have wondered about is the ability to “push” cows. We all know that dogs, horses, friends, or kids are often involved in this process to help the pusher be in two places at once. Some cow herds have established routines and simply requires shaking a feed bag to get them where you want to go. Others are often bent on going wherever you don’t want them to go. Many row-croppers I work with are “part-time” cattlemen, using crop fields for winter grazing or grazing crop stubble after harvest. The cows on these fields don’t always have a routine because of the temporary nature of the system.

The attached video was an exercise in gauging the response of cows to a buzzing quadcopter. The cows appeared calm throughout the activity, but a horses behavior was completely unsettled. In this case I had someone else in the field with me, and he helped correct the cows as they circled back around. However, I was impressed in the response of the cows when using the aircraft to prod them in the right direction. Eventually, the cows made up their mind they were leaving and it was “automatic” for them at that point.



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