If things work well, Hamm says the station will continue the test work for several years in an effort to help farmers take corrective action on sick plants before crop losses occur, or the pest or disease damage becomes too extensive to correct.
"The key is to pick up plants that are just beginning to show stress so you can find a solution quickly," he explains, "so the grower doesn't have any reduced yield or quality issues.
"This can save money. It's an early warning system for plants with issues as well as an opportunity for growers to reduce costs by being more efficient in water and fertilizer use."
Hamm picked potatoes as the test crop on the 300-acre farm because of the high value of the crop, which can cost producers as much as $4,000 an acre to grow.
The HawkEye and its Tetracam video unit weigh about eight pounds. The plane can fly for a maximum of half an hour at a time.
While it uses a motor for takeoff, a parachute keeps it in the air as the remote control operator directs its flight to a limit of 400 feet.