Technology continues to shape how people live, work and even play.

One such area is in what is known as drone technology. Drones have become a critical piece of equipment for everyone from farmers who are scouting their fields to law enforcement looking for missing individuals.

Redwood County officially entered the world of drone technology Oct. 2 when the county commissioners approved a request from Scott Wold, Redwood County Environmental Office director, to purchase a drone.

Wold said there are many farmers in the region who have invested in drones as a way to enhance their operations, adding the technology used in drones today has become much more advanced and the options for their use have also dramatically increased.

At a cost of $31,708, the county board approved the purchase of two drones and video and photography equipment from Maverick Drone Systems.

According to Wold, the two drones being purchased are similar in terms of how they are operated. However, one of the drones is far more sophisticated in terms of its capabilities. The less sophisticated drone will be used more as a training tool, said Wold, to ensure those who are using the more advanced drone will have received the training to use it more effectively. 

The county will use grant funding to purchase the drone, which Wold said has various county applications.

The first, he said, would be to use it to view the county’s system of ditches as a way to check for damage as well as to determine compliance with the buffer rule.

No, added Wold, the drone is not intended to be used to keep an eye on landowners but to perform needed visual investigations. He added the new technology can also be used to check bodies of water for invasive species.

Currently, work to check ditches for damage and to investigate bodies of water has to be done by physically walking into these areas. Wold said the use of the drone technology can help to speed up that process and ensure safety for employees.

Wold said Renville County purchased a drone, and it has been utilized in Redwood County, adding that proved to be helpful.

In addition to the environmental office, the drone would be available for other county departments, such as law enforcement. The video camera installed will have infrared capabilities that can be used to search for people who may be missing or when the sheriff’s department is investigating criminal activity. The highway department would also be able to utilize the drone technology for bridge inspections. In some of these instances the use of drones can mean not having to put people in potentially dangerous situations.

Anyone who uses the drone would be required to be trained and licensed. Although Wold said the rules for law enforcement differ.

He added whatever the requirements are for use would be the standard for the county.

During the flooding in July, the county accessed a drone that was used to investigate flood damage, and he said that allowed for an instant look at the damage.

In other action during its meeting, the Redwood County board:

• Approved two conditional use permits for the erection of community solar gardens in the Morgan area for Richard and Lynn Green and Jeffrey and Angela Peterson. Both solar gardens would be one megawatt in size and would be installed and operated by US Solar, LLC.

• Approved an extraction use permit for Pete Fuhr and Bryan Warner in Section 15 of Delhi Township.

• Awarded the bid for cash rent on the 100-acre parcel owned by the county to Kyle Hentges at $253.35 per acre for three years.

• Approved the employment of Andrea Moldestad as the child advocacy center forensic interviewer at a rate of $18.31 per hour.

• Accepted the resignation of Jonathan Mertens from his position as a part-time dispatcher.

• Accepted the resignation of Mike Hubin from his position as a deputy with the Red-wood County Sheriff’s Department effective Jan. 1, 2019.

Photo courtesy of Internet Public Domain