Agricultural Aviators: Flying In For Safety

An aerial applicator does a crowd fly-by at the Operation S.A.F.E. event held in Delmarva.
An aerial applicator does a crowd fly-by at the Operation S.A.F.E. event held in Delmarva.

Normally, agricultural aviators don’t have much of an audience when they’re out spraying crops, but this past April 15 was an exception. There were more than 70 guests watching 10 planes and one helicopter, from sunup until just about sundown at Chorman Airport in Greenwood, DE. The occasion was a Professional Application Analysis Clinic for Chorman Spraying, LLC.

Known as Operation S.A.F.E. Fly-Ins, these events are performed all over the country to help ag aviation pilots or crop dusters self-regulate the safety and performance of their airplanes. S.A.F.E. stands for Self-regulating Application and Flight Efficiency. The National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA) created the S.A.F.E. program in 1981 in an effort to better control spray drift through professional application analysis. Pilots are urged to participate annually, and fly-ins are not limited to NAAA members.

Jeff Chorman was the highest bidder on an Operation S.A.F.E. fly-in at the NAAA annual meeting live auction in December 2012. Certified S.A.F.E. analysts John Garr of adjuvant manufacturer GarrCo Products, Inc. and Dr. Dennis Gardisser of WRK of Arkansas LLC, an application technology and aviation insurance company, have been conducting fly-ins for about 30 years combined. They donated their expertise, traveling with equipment in tow to Chorman Airport to check out 10 planes and one helicopter that serve the Delmarva Peninsula.

“We can all go to the meetings in the winter and sit through these lectures about pattern testing and nozzle placement, but unless you actually fly your airplane over the string and have a trained professional evaluate your spray pattern and make recommendations, you really don’t know exactly what’s coming out of your airplane, and how,” explained Chorman.

Pink dye is added to the spray tank to make the spray easy to see. Garr and Gardisser observed and performed computer tests on spray patterns and deposition. After measurement and analysis, they made adjustments and certified the aircraft. They were evaluating three key aspects of the spray:

1. Uniformity of the swath.

2. Effective swath width.

3. Droplet size.

Appreciating Customers

Chorman capitalized on Garr and Gardisser’s visit to host a customer appreciation event, bringing in about 70 customers, chemical salespeople and vegetable processors, as well as competitors, to observe the spray evaluation, talk to the experts and hear a presentation during lunch.

Gardisser commented that Chorman’s decision to bring in his customers, colleagues and competitors was a thoughtful way to connect. “The guests came before and stayed after the luncheon to observe,” he said. “They listened to consultations and asked a lot of technical questions about additives and surfactants.

“There is a misconception that higher volume is better, so we shared recent research that demonstrates that droplet spectrum is better than total volume,” continued Gardisser. “It’s much more efficient to use three to five gallons when some operators and farmers are using up to 10 gallons per acre.”

 “We had a lot of conversations about tank mixes, and the right products and combinations of adjuvants to insure a homogenous mix and proper deposition,” Garr added. “And nozzle placement is always an important and easily corrected performance component.”

“We haven’t had the opportunity to pattern-test our airplanes, because there hasn’t been a fly-in clinic in this part of the country since the mid-1980s,” Chorman explained. “We’ve upgraded our fleet, and wanted to see exactly where we stood on swath, droplet size and so forth. I invited our competitors so we could all learn.”

“This is a very important program for our industry,” explained Andrew Moore, executive director of NAAA, who made the trip from the association’s office inside the Washington, DC, beltway to observe the event. “Between the pilots, operators, ground crew and all the cogs involved in the aerial application process, how these aircraft operate so quickly, effectively and efficiently is amazing. It’s a beautifully choreographed process. The farmers, the chemical companies and canneries, etc., seemed very impressed at the length industry goes to, to do what they do.”

In 2011, the aerial application industry included 1,350 operators with 2,835 aircraft, or 2.1 aircraft per operation.

“It was a great day,” Moore added. “This industry is very fortunate to have professionals such as Dennis Gardisser and John Garr that donate so much of their time, effort and resources to calibrating ag aircraft nationwide. Also for operators like the Chormans, who put their equipment through the calibration process.  It is what makes Operation S.A.F.E. a premiere program, and the farmers reap the dividends.”

“We are the only operator on the Delmarva operating turbines up until this year, and we wanted to dispel the myth that a slower airplane does a better job than a turbine,” Chorman said. “That’s why we invited the chemical salesman and the vegetable processors to hear and see what Dennis and John had to say. I think it was very effective. Several people commented they didn’t know a heavier, faster airplane has better penetration than a lighter, slower one; or that by running less water but making the right droplet size is just as effective as running a higher gallon-per-acre.”

The added benefit is that Operation S.A.F.E. certified operators have maximized their performance, which gives them and their customers — especially Chorman customers, who saw this in action — peace of mind.

“I didn’t fully understand what the Operation S.A.F.E. program was all about until we were all done, and I had time to debrief with Dennis and John,” Chorman said. “Their expertise is excellent.”

Topics:

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Agricultural Aviators: Flying In For Safety

Management Stories
ManagementMACA 2014: The State Of The Agricultural Industry, And Then Some
October 9, 2014
The trade association’s annual gathering featured speakers from across agriculture and beyond. Read More
StewardshipA Multi-Layered Approach To Water Quality
October 6, 2014
Illinois event highlights research and technology designed to better monitor and improve water quality — and the benefits of cooperative, coordinated effort. Read More
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
ManagementRussia Bans U.S. And EU Ag Product Imports In Ukraine Sanctions Battle
August 7, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin has banned the import of agricultural goods from countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia. Read More
Top 100 Articles
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Match Made In Deviation
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More
Winter Wheat
CropLife 100South Dakota Co-op Member Owners Vote No On Unification
June 26, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have announced that member-owners have voted Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
Latest News
Agworld Apple Watch Farm Management
EquipmentAussie Data Management Software Company Making Its Mark…
July 4, 2015
Zach Sheely, vice president of sales and operations, says that several large, well-known U.S. cooperatives (Stanislaus Farm Supply, Wilco-Winfield and Read More
Topcon AGI-4 on MF Planter
EquipmentAutosteer: Compatibility, Accuracy Remain Top Of Mind
July 3, 2015
The world of automatic steering solutions in agriculture has evolved rapidly in the last few years. From after-market add-ons that Read More
ManagementUnited Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes Merger & Crop Update
July 2, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the reasons behind the United Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes merger and USDA’s recent Read More
Industry NewsBioSafe Adds To Sales Force
July 2, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the hire of two new members for its service team. David Britt recently joined the team Read More
Chesapeake Bay
ManagementChesapeake Bay Clean-Up Gets Renewed Attention
July 2, 2015
The Chesapeake Bay has been called one of the most biologically productive ecosystems in the world. It’s also one of Read More
Measuring Bulk Tanks
ManagementBulk Pesticide Compliance: Top 10 Areas Of Improvement …
July 1, 2015
  In honor of the 33-year run of David Letterman’s Late Show, the American Agronomic Stewardship Alliance (AASA) is happy Read More
Industry NewsArysta North America Hires Midwest Sales Manager
July 1, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the hiring of Brian Battles as the Senior Technical Sales Manager for the Midwest Read More
Farmer on tablet
Eric SfiligojThe Never-Ending Battle Against Modern Agriculture
July 1, 2015
In the world of comic books, the character of Superman often refers to the fight to save the world as Read More
Retail FacilitiesBuilding Up Ag Retail
July 1, 2015
In the oftentimes unpredictable world we live in, it’s nice to know some things can be reliably countered on to Read More
Retail FacilitiesMaple River Grain And Agronomy Phases In Site Developme…
July 1, 2015
Marcus Construction helped Maple River Grain and Agronomy in Casselton, ND, with the design-build of its dry fertilizer, liquid chemical/seed Read More
Retail FacilitiesA&B Welding Builds A New Liquid Terminal Hub For Br…
July 1, 2015
To build its new hub facility, Briggs Crop Nutrients enlisted the help of A&B Welding. The result, an efficient facility Read More
Edon Farmers Co-op
Retail FacilitiesNew Marcus Facility At Edon Farmers Co-op Provides More…
July 1, 2015
Edon Farmers Co-Op in Edon, OH, needed a new facility to consolidate outdated locations. Marcus Construction was able to design Read More
Retail FacilitiesKinder Morgan Expands Its Storage With A New Dome Barre…
July 1, 2015
Kinder Morgan wanted additional covered storage at its Dakota Bulk Terminal on the Mississippi River in St. Paul, MN. With Read More
Retail FacilitiesHeartland Tank Protects Fertilizer From Extreme Cold At…
July 1, 2015
The Arthur Companies in Harvey, ND, enlisted the help of Heartland Tank Companies to develop a new liquid fertilizer facility Read More
The McGregor Co. fertilizer loadout
Retail FacilitiesThe McGregor Co. Partners With Kahler Automation To Cre…
June 30, 2015
Kahler Automation helped The McGregor Co. expand its Clarkston, WA, operation with unstaffed loadout technology that enables customers to pick Read More
Dry and Liquid Plant
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Helps CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative Build…
June 30, 2015
CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative in Mooreton, ND, wanted a liquid/dry blender system that could meet the needs of its customers Read More
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes, United Suppliers To Merge Crop Inpu…
June 29, 2015
Land O’Lakes, Inc. and United Suppliers, Inc. of Ames, IA, today announced their intent to merge their crop inputs businesses. Read More
FungicidesHelena To Distribute Unique Summit Agro Fungicide
June 29, 2015
RANMAN 400 SC fungicide, the only fungicide with a FRAC group 21 designation, is now part of the innovative Summit Read More