They’re flying high above our heads. They’re taking photos, collecting and analyzing data and recording video.

In short, the future is here.

I’m talking about commercial drones, of course.

As you’ll read in Using Drones in Arboriculture,  the use of drones is starting to take off—no pun intended—in the tree care business. Actually, the use of drones is taking off in many businesses. As you’ll read in our article about drones, “one look at a live feed from an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) hovering over a tree and it’s easy to understand the value that they can bring to tree care operations, at a fraction of the cost of traditional equipment.” We explain how UAVs can fit into your operation and assist in residential, commercial or municipal jobs. We provide you with some questions to ask yourself about whether drones are right for your business.

This topic is a big deal, something that can change your businesses and operations as we move toward a future of technology making our lives, and jobs, easier and ultimately better.

I recently wrote about how it’s time to embrace technology and realize all the ways it’s changing the way you (we) do business. My intention here is not to repeat myself, but rather marvel at how far we’ve come—little robots flying through the sky, functioning like airborne computers transmitting data and images that can help in so many facets of tree care and arboriculture.

So, how far have we come? I’d say that distance is immeasurable from the humble beginnings of tree care.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?

Think about John Davey, considered the father of tree care, working on trees in the 1800s. Davey, who is said to have developed arboriculture into a profession, founded the first known arboriculture company in America, The Davey Tree Expert Company, and established a laboratory and tree school in Kent, Ohio.

Davey had simple, meager hand tools to do his “tree surgery” work. Do you think, in his wildest dreams, Davey could ever have imagined a world where people use electronic handheld devices, satellite imagery and flying machines to do business? Not likely.

Continuing our history lesson: In 1932, the term “arboriculture” was first used “officially” in America by Charles Irish, although the term had been used in England for at least 300 years. It was at this point that modern arboriculture began to emerge, and the term for people who worked in the industry began to change from tree surgeon, like John Davey, to arborist.

At the time, this change occurred to reflect the advancements in technology, standards and services within the industry. Even then, it forced people to change the way they do everyday tasks.

Fast-forward to today, and modern arborists have to know not only the practical aspects of tree care, like chain saw work, equipment use and all the other practices that “tree surgeons” do on a daily basis, but they also must have knowledge of trees as living organisms, understanding how they grow, how and why to perform pruning, tree diseases and treatments and much more.

In 2016, arboriculture is a multifaceted industry on the forefront of modern technology, involving the cultivation, management and study of trees, shrubs and other plants. It can be described as both a science and a practice.

That’s quite a journey from the 1800s. So when you look up and watch your drones hard at work, allow yourself some time to reflect on where this industry has been, where it is and, most importantly, where it’s going.

Can you imagine where the journey will take us in the next 100 years?

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