VERMILLION, S.D. | Manning a booth at the Dakota Farm Show here earlier this month, it was hard to tell what was making Laura Wilson happier.

The fact she and her husband, Michael, were promoting their new business, Birdseye Farming, in which Michael flies drones over fields to take photos and video for a number of agricultural purposes.

Or that the business venture was cementing this Northwest Iowa native’s move back to her home state.

“I missed my mom’s 70th birthday. I missed baptisms. I got tired of looking at pictures on Facebook. I want to be in pictures on Facebook,” said Laura Wilson, who was born in Sioux City and moved to Rockwell City at age 3. Her family still lives there.

Known as Laura Ridgely back then, she has Iowa farm blood in her veins.

“My first job was walking soybeans,” Wilson said.

After receiving a business administration degree from the University of Northern Iowa, she left in 1989 and lived in eight states while moving for her job. She and Michael currently live near Raleigh, North Carolina. She met the North Carolina native while they were at a conference in Milwaukee. She was living in Arkansas at the time.

All the while, she wanted to return home. The wide open spaces remained in her mind when returning to North Carolina, where trees and small farm fields dominate the landscape, after every visit.

“I get claustrophobic down there after I’ve been home in Iowa,” she said.

So when Michael got interested in drones after seeing a news report on TV one night and later decided to start a business applying the new technology to agriculture, it made sense to move back to Iowa.

“We’ve decided with the career change, it was time to move home,” Laura said.

They’ll settle near Des Moines, where Laura begins a new job at the end of the month.

Michael’s fine with the move.

“The alternative to not moving here is losing her, and that’s not going to happen,” he said.

Michael will go from seeing fields full of cotton, tobacco and peanuts to those bearing corn and soybeans. He plans to get many up-close looks through the lenses of cameras carried by drones, which he said can deliver better imagery in a shorter period of time than satellites or airplanes.

The Wilsons see a future in flying drones with infrared cameras over fields to identify distressed plants. Regular video cameras could detect hail and wind damage. Drones could do plant counts, cattle counts. A drone carrying a thermal imaging camera could assist in the search for missing livestock. Drones could also be used for three-dimensional mapping.

“There are so many things. Nobody knows what all you can do with it,” said Michael, who has the pilot license required by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly drones for commercial use.

Laura’s happy they’ll be finding out what all you can do with drones in Iowa. It’ll take some time to adjust to the weather, she said with a laugh, but she’s fine with a little climate adjustment if it means fulfilling her dream, and her mother’s.

“My mother never thought she’d hear me say I was coming back,” Laura said.

Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal

Latest News from Birdseye Farming

Michael Wilson, owner of Birdseye Farming, adjusts his PrecisionHawk unmanned aerial vehicle in his booth at the Dakota Farm Show Jan. 5 in Vermillion, South Dakota. Michael and his wife, Laura, who was born in Sioux City and grew up in Rockwell City, Iowa, are moving to Des Moines from North Carolina, where Michael is from, to offer drone services to farmers.

Come Visit us a the Midwest Farm Show in Cedar Falls MarchFeb 1,2 & 3 at Booth 260 and register to win a free flight!

By: NICK HYTREK Sioux City Journal

precision Agriculture and real estate Drone service

Urbandale, Ia 50323


Come Visit us a the Des Moines Iowa Power Farm Show Feb 4,5 & 6 at Booth 117 and register to win a free flight!