About Ag Aviation
Agricultural aviation is an important part of the overall aviation and agriculture industries. The industry consists of small businesses and pilots that use aircraft to aid farmers in producing a safe, affordable and abundant supply of food, fiber and biofuel. Aerial applicators protect forestry and play an important role in protecting the public by combating mosquitoes, encephalitis and other disease
Aerial applicators are highly trained professionals who have made a very large investment in their business. They are concerned with human health, the environment, security and performing their job in a responsible mannet
Aerial application is a critical component of high-yield agriculture. High-yield agriculture, which includes the responsible use of crop protection products, benefits the environment by producing maximum crop yields from fewer acres. Some farmers apply their products from the ground using ground equipment, but many have realized that using an AG plane to do this work is often more efficient and effective. For example, aircraft can treat wet fields and spray when crop canopies are too thick for ground rigs. Unlike ground rigs, aerial application does not contribute to topsoil runoff. Moreover, when pests or disease threatens a crop, time is critical. At a minimum, an airplane or helicopter can accomplish three times as much application work as any other form of application can
In the early days, aerial applicators were known as “crop dusters” because they worked with dry chemicals, mostly insecticides. Today, aerial applicators deliver mostly liquid products to control pests and diseases and to provide nutrients for American agriculture. Farmers value the use of aircraft because they can cover so much area so quickly, without disturbing the soil or the growing crops. Aircraft can glide over the crops at up to 140 miles per hour. This is important because some pests and disease can do serious damage in just a day or two.
Aerial application is used for many different purposes. Planes and helicopters are used to seed rice and wheat, defoliate cotton prior to harvest, fight forest and grassland fires, protect forests, feed fish, melt snow and control mosquitoes that threaten public health. All of this is in addition to the usual function of applying herbicides, insecticides and fertilizer to fruit, vegetable and feedgrain crops.
The planes used for aerial application in the early days were surplus war planes. But by the 1950s, the aerial application industry began to develop planes made especially for aerial application. Today, the newest and biggest planes carry as much as 800 gallons in the hopper, are powered by turboprop engines and can cost a million dollars or more. The new navigational technology—GPS—helps pilots maintain pinpoint accuracy.
Aerial applicators are committed to the control of chemical drift through research, technology and innovation. Ag aviation is a high-visibility industry. The next time you see an AG plane in operation, remember, “You are watching a highly trained professional committed to supplying safe, economically priced food for you and your family
More and more evidence continues to be collected about the benefits of aerial application compared with other forms of application. Aerial application’s speed is obviously one attraction, which helps in quickly eradicating a crop threat. Aerial’s ability to treat in conditions and locales where other forms of application can’t is another one of its benefits. The ability to treat in multiple conditions also results in better timing, enabling the farmer to treat the crop at its most efficacious point regardless of field conditions. When excessive rain hits, farmers rely on aerial fertilizer and other crop input applications because it’s the only method available to access their fields