Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Sunday, May 22, 2016
A Fire-Starting Drone May Help Keep Ranchers Safer During Burn Season
Every spring farmers and ranchers intentionally burn their fields to jumpstart the natural process of renewal. But those fires can be dangerous. That’s why researchers in Nebraska are designing a new drone to start fires, which may help protect people and the environment.
On a warm spring morning, a big burn crew dressed in yellow and green flame-resistant clothing gets ready to set 26 acres of tallgrass prairie on fire at Homestead National Monument of America near Beatrice, Neb.
Mark Engler, park superintendent, said today’s prescribed burn is special. A team from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is trying out a new tool: a fire-starting drone.
“Introducing this technology is an important step forward for us in testing new methods to work, not only prescribed fires but really, wildland fires,” Engler said.
The burn team starts lighting the edge of the prairie with drip torches—basically big gas cans with a wick. As firefighters walk along the growing flames, UNL Computer Science professor Sebastian Elbaum gets the drone ready to launch. He described the burn plan:
“Once they build this horseshoe-shape black area [of burned grass], we’re going to have our drones there fly across this field and drop some of these balls that will ignite into flame,” Elbaum said. The idea is to “help them perform the task that [the firefighters] right at the center are performing right now, which can get risky if the wind changes or if they get caught up in there.”...more