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21st Century Crop Dusting: FAA Approves Large Drone Use On Farms

FRESNO (CBS/AP) -- A drone large enough to carry tanks of fertilizers and pesticides has won rare approval from federal authorities to spray crops in the United States.

Steve Markofski of Yamaha Corp. U.S.A. said Tuesday that the Federal Aviation Administration's approval is a first. He says drones are already used to take pictures to help farmers identify unhealthy patches of crops, but this is the first time they'll be able to carry a payload.

Markofski says Yamaha's 207-pound (94-kilogram) RMAX looks like a small helicopter and is remotely piloted. It received FAA approval Friday.

Markofski says farmers in Japan and other countries have used the large drone for years.

University of California, Davis, professor Ken Giles says it's best suited for precision spraying on California's rolling vineyards and hard-to-reach places.

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