In today’s Bulldog wrapup of technology and life science news:

  • Layoffs at Hospira’s plant in Clayton will begin in July
  • PowerSecure shares surge after earnings report
  • Mobile search tops PC search for first time
  • Drones can now spray crops
  • Netfix says the FCC should oppose the AT&T-DirecTV deal

The details:

  • Hospira layoffs set

Hospira will begin the closing of its medical product production plant in Clayton with 100 layoffs in July, the company disclosed earlier this week in a filing with the N.C. Department of Commerce.

Ultimately some 250 people will lose their jobs.

Hospira had disclosed plans in January to close the plant. It will continue to operate a plant in Rocky Mount.

  • PowerSecure shares climb

Shares in Wake Forest-based PowerSecure (Nasdaq: POWR) flexed some power Wednesday after the company reported earnings that topped Wall Street expectations.

The company, which provides a variety of services related to electrical power from LEDs to microgrids, also reported a record order backlog of more than $400 million.

Revenues jumped more than 50 percent from a year earlier to nearly $80 million, and the company reported a 1-cent profit. Analysts had expected a loss.

  • US gives farmers approval to spray crops from drones

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, officials said Tuesday.

The drone, called the RMAX, is a remotely piloted helicopter that weighs 207 pounds (94 kilograms), said Steve Markofski, a spokesman for Yamaha Corp. U.S.A., which developed the aircraft.

Smaller drones weighing a few pounds had already been approved for limited use to take pictures that help farmers identify unhealthy crops. The RMAX is the first time adrone big enough to carry a payload has been approved, Markofski said.

The drone already has been used elsewhere, including by rice farmers in Japan. The FAA approved it for the U.S. on Friday.

“I certainly understand their cautious approach,” Markofski said. “It’s a daunting task given our airspace is complicated.”

The drone is best suited for precision spraying on California’s rolling vineyards and places that are hard to reach from the ground or with larger, piloted planes, said Ken Giles, professor of biological and agricultural engineering at the University of California, Davis. Giles tested the drone in California to see if it could be used here.

“A vehicle like this gives you a way to get in and get out and get that treatment done,” Giles said.

  • Googling on mobile devices surpasses PCs in US for 1st time

Google’s influential search engine has hit a tipping point in technology’s shift to smartphones. More search requests are now being made onmobile devices than on personal computers in the U.S. and many other parts of the world.

The milestone announced at a digital advertising conference Tuesday serves as another reminder of how dramatically online behavior has changed since 2007. That’s when Apple released the first iPhone, leading to a wave of similar devices that have made it easier for people to stay connected to the Internet wherever they go.

The upheaval has rocked PC makers and other tech companies such as Microsoft with businesses tied to sales of desktop and laptop computers. Google has been able to adapt better than most companies, partly because its search engine and other services are embedded in the popular Android mobile operating system, but it hasn’t been totally unscathed.

Google’s average ad prices have been declining for the past three-and-half years, partly because marketers so far have been unwilling to pay as much for the commercial message displayed on the smaller screens of smartphones. The company, though, saysmobile ad prices have been steadily climbing and will continue to do so as marketers recognize the value of being able to connect with prospective customers at the precise moment that they are looking for someplace to eat, or comparing products on a smartphone while standing in a store.

“The future of mobile is now,” says Jerry Dischler, a Google Inc. vice president in charge of the company’s “AdWords” service for creating online marketing campaigns.

  • Netflix says FCC should demand changes in AT&T-DirecTV deal

Internet video service Netflix is telling the Federal Communication that it should reject AT&T’s purchase of satellite TV company DirecTV unless somechanges are made.

In a letter dated Monday, Netflix said if the deal is completed in its current form, AT&T could decide to hurt online video producers like Netflix and Hulu in order to protect the investment it’s making in DirecTV. It could do that by implementing data caps or usage-based pricing that would make Netflix video more expensive to watch, Netflix said, adding that AT&T has already shown it’s willing to degrade consumers’ access to Netflixstreams.

“AT&T’s investment in a business model that profits by selling bundled programming packages will result in a powerful incentive to protect that model,” Netflix says in the letter.

Netflix said it isn’t opposed to the deal in principle and only has concerns about its current form.