By Linda Andersen
“I research all new technologies that have to do with agriculture and find useful ones and help bring the technology to our growers. My main focus has been on using UAV’s or drones with multispectral cameras on them to take pictures of fields in order to determine areas that are good and bad. Using these images I can help create zone maps in order to create variable rate maps in order to be more efficient with inputs within our fields,” responded former Kittson County resident, Nolan Berg, in response to the question of what his position as Precision Systems Agronomist with Peterson Farms Seed of Fargo entails.
Berg, a 2007 graduate of Tri-County School in Karlstad, has family ties to both northern and southern Kittson County. His mother, Jan (Johnson) Berg grew up in Hallock. His maternal grandparents, the late Roy and Audrey Johnson, and step-grandfather, the late Herb Johnson, were long-time residents of the Hallock area. Nolan’s father, Mark Berg, grew up in Karlstad, His paternal grandparents, the late Norman and Edna Berg, resided for many years in Karlstad.
Nolan explained how he got into this fascinating and ever changing career. “I was initially interested in a career in turf management which is typically a superintendent at a golf course or sports field. So, I went to NDSU and got a degree in turf management with a minor in business administration. When nearing the end of my degree, I realized that industry wasn’t what I wanted to pursue so I decided to get a master’s degree in plant sciences.”
Nolan earned that master’s degree in 2013 and told of how he came to his current employer in Fargo – Peterson Farms Seed. “Coming out of college I was looking for a job relating to plant sciences, and I got the unique opportunity from Peterson Farms Seed to help them understand how to utilize precision agriculture for their growers, specifically using drones, which is what caught my eye the most.”
Besides working part of the time with precision agriculture, Berg said he works “with different genetic companies” to “help them grow and increase their new genetic seed lines.”
Berg’s work brings him to Kittson County “every once and a while,” he said, adding “We have some seed growers in the area that grow the seed we clean and sell the next year. I work with the growers to make sure everything is going well within their fields.”
What is Berg’s favorite part of his job? “My favorite part is obviously flying and testing the different drones and software and also showing growers how the drones work.”
Berg is becoming known for his expertise in this new field of technology. “I have been invited to speak about drones all over because it is such a new technology. I have spoken on the radio a few times, as well as at a couple national conferences in Las Vegas and New Orleans last fall. It has been very fun for me to help bring my knowledge of drones and precision agriculture to growers.”
Nolan was interviewed on KFGO this past winter. In that interview he offered more information on the use of drones in agriculture. He said the quality of drone technology has increased greatly in just the last couple of years. He described the drones of two years ago as being “clunky” and the software as “lacking.” He described the software of today as “great” and said they will now be able to use drones “for research and profit.”
Operated by remote control, the drones typically fly 400 feet above the crop, but can also “fly in and take closer pictures.”
Berg said drone technology can save farmers money because they can pick up trouble spots, such as those that are too dry or wet, or that need more fertilizer. He said multi-spectrum cameras can pick up trouble spots even before the human eye can see them.
Farmers can now more easily own their own drone. Berg said the price of drones has dropped dramatically in the last couple of years. For example, the Phantom 3 has dropped from about fourteen hundred dollars to five hundred dollars.
Regarding the future, Berg stated in the radio interview that more research needs to be done on multi-spectrum cameras because of their capacity to see things that the human eye can’t see. He also predicted that drones will keep getting better and will fly longer and farther.
Berg’s concluding email interview remarks were: “I plan on continuing finding the latest technology in agriculture which is definitely coming fast. I think growers should be prepared to understand some of the new technologies that will be available to them. They should embrace them because the technology is getting easier to use and is here to help growers become more efficient and in return make them more profitable.”
For more information contact Peterson Farms Seed at (701) 282-7476 or visit their website – www.petersonfarmsseed.com/
NOLAN BERG focuses on using drones to get pictures of fields helping farmers understand their needs better. (Photo Submitted)