The Navajo’s farming enterprise, known as the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry, or NAPI, plans to buy the drone by next summer. The unmanned aerial craft will be used to monitor changes in crop fields, which will allow managers to adjust watering and fertilization levels.
NAPI CEO Tsosie Lewis tells the Farmington (N.M.) Daily Times he got the idea to use drone aircraft while at a conference for major farm operators. He says the unmanned craft will be cheaper to operate than the current manned crop survey flights, which are handled by a contractor.
NAPI grows potatoes, alfalfa, pinto beans, corn and winter wheat on 72,000 acres of farmland. Navajo Nation officials say the farming operation generates $400 million in annual revenue, and employs more than 400 people.