Curriculum introducing drones as cost effective tools for improved efficiency in ecologically and socially responsible management of livestock grazing

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2020: $8,980.00
Projected End Date: 01/31/2022
Grant Recipient: Pigeon River Farm
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Robert Braun
Pigeon River Farm


  • Animals: bovine, goats, poultry


  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, grazing - multispecies, pasture fertility, preventive practices
  • Crop Production: cropping systems
  • Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, technical assistance, workshop, youth education
  • Energy: energy use
  • Farm Business Management: labor/employment, land access, risk management, value added, whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: wetlands
  • Sustainable Communities: employment opportunities, infrastructure analysis, leadership development, new business opportunities, quality of life, social networks

    Proposal summary:

    Traditional ag-tech programs do not currently include curriculum introducing drone technology as an effective farm management tool. The project will develop a 2-hour “drone use for livestock grazing operations” curriculum module in Worldwide Instructional Design System (WIDS) format for ag-tech instructors and other educators.  This curriculum module will be easily inserted into current ag-tech courses at the discretion of the educator. The curriculum will also be easily adaptable for use in a field day venue with live drone demonstration.

    The multi-media WIDS-format curriculum module will present real-life examples of the ecologically sound, economically viable and socially responsible use of drones on Pigeon River Farm. Examples will include research data and footage demonstrating such things as:

    • Time money saved using drones in routine grazing livestock monitoring and close inspection activities versus conventional in-person methods;
    • Ecological / environmental benefits of using drones versus conventional in-person grazing livestock monitoring methods;
    • Stress reduction by drone use when conventional in-person grazing livestock monitoring methods are either dangerous or unattainable.

    The finished curriculum will be released to secondary and post-secondary ag-tech programs.  Multi-faceted feedback and effectiveness from the ag-tech programs will be compiled and documented in the final report.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Establish benchmark by researching and documenting effects of Drone Technology in pasture management compared to conventional methods.
    2. Present early project concept at June 2019 MREA Energy and Sustainable Agricultural Fair in Custer, Wisconsin.
    3. Present / demonstrate proof of concept in September 2020 field day(s).
    4. Develop a 2 hour multi-media curriculum module in WIDS format for easy integration into ag-tech programs.
    5. Distribute finished curriculum module to ag-tech programs through website, social media, and live presentations.
    6. Compile multi-faceted feedback and effectiveness data from ag-tech programs into a final project report.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.