VSG Unmanned demonstrates its unmanned aircraft at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie.

Norcross firm approved to use drones on farms, in forestry

Norcross-based Vision Services Group LLC has gained federal approval to use unmanned aircraft in agriculture and forestry.

The Federal Aviation Administration granted a two-year exemption Tuesday allowing Vision Services Group to operate unmanned aircraft — often called drones — to collect aerial data for agronomists, crop consultants and the forestry industry.

The company, which has an operation called VSG Unmanned, plans to apply for permits to provide data to farmers in South Georgia this growing season, said chief operating officer Ben Worley. He said VSG plans to work with farmers to improve their efficiency and look at environmental benefits of using the technology on farms. And in forestry, Worley said the exemption puts the company “on the leading edge of helping increase the efficiency of managing Georgia’s 24 million acres of timber.”

While the Small UAV Coalition supported VSG’s petition for the FAA approval, its petition drew comments in opposition from the Air Line Pilots Association International, the world’s largest pilots union, and National Agricultural Aviation Association, which represents crop duster operators.

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