chad colbyDr. Chad Colby

When someone wants to know about the state of the art in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology or policy, Chad Colby is the “go-to guy”. He combines his experience and passions for farming, aviation and technology to provide insights into this rapidly evolving farm tool.

Chad was raised on a Bureau County, Illinois grain farm. He led a California-based aviation construction company that designed airport hanger projects and became a pilot. He returned to Illinois and became immersed in precision agriculture, first at Precision Planting, then as an Integrated Solutions Manager and Marketing Manager for one of the nation’s largest John Deere dealers.

When customers learned that Chad had a plane, they wanted to fly their fields. While Chad knew that the airplane’s bird’s-eye perspective was an ideal scouting tool, he also understood that the plane was not efficient — owning and flying an aircraft is time-consuming and expensive. His quest to streamline this service led him to unmanned aerial systems.

In 2013 Chad launched to provide the agriculture community with the most current information on unmanned aerial systems. The website has become a clearing house for up-to-date information on the four evolving areas of UAVs: airship technology; camera and imaging hardware and software; applications for the technology; and the rules and regulations relating to the commercial use of UAVs.

Chad has been active in providing the industry with a better understanding of this emerging technology at events such as the 2013 John Deere Global IT Conference where he presented “Drones in Agriculture, the Next Phase in Precision Farming” and other events such as the 2014 Precision Aerial Ag Show and Ag PhD Field Day at Hefty Farm. He also appears often on “This Week in Agribusiness” where he presents a segment called Ag Tech Talk.

Chad is also applying his unmanned aerial systems knowledge in his new role as Product Support Lead for Gregg Sauder's 360 Yield Center ( 360 Yield Center combines tools that sense the crop’s needs with new tools that allow for more timely application of nutrient and plant health solutions.

Chad resides in Bloomington, Illinois with his wife Karen (partner at the consulting firm of McGillicuddy Corrigan Agronomics) and daughters Bristol and Mara.