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

ManagementOABA Annual Conference Wraps Up In Columbus
February 5, 2016
More than 300 Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) members and industry professionals were on hand to engage in collaborative learning and Read More
Chesapeake Bay
StewardshipKeeping A Watch On Water Issues
February 2, 2016
During a down cycle in the market, it’s difficult to think about investing for the long term. For retail businesses, Read More
FertilizerFort Wayne 4R Farming Event Set For February 12
January 29, 2016
The Nutrient Stewardship Council will host a complimentary “4R Farming 4 Sustainability” educational workshop Feb. 12 in Fort Wayne, IN, Read More
Legvold Farm, Northfield, MN
LegislationASA Notes Progress, Urges EU To Improve Biotech Approval Process
January 29, 2016
The American Soybean Association (ASA) urged the European Commission today to continue its work in addressing delays in the approvals Read More
Top 100 Articles
Elburn Cooperative
CropLife 100Elburn Cooperative Members Vote To Join CHS
December 28, 2015
With 81% of eligible producers voting, 94% cast an affirmative ballot for Elburn Cooperative, a diversified agricultural retailer based out Read More
West Central Cooperative, Jefferson, IA
CropLife 100Farmers Cooperative-West Central Merger Approved
December 21, 2015
The members of Farmers Cooperative Co. (FC), Ames, IA, and West Central Cooperative, Ralston, IA, have both approved the merger Read More
Wheat Growers Innovation Center, Bath, SD
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Opens Innovation Center
December 21, 2015
Wheat Growers’ commitment in providing its farmer-owners with the latest in technological advancements now has a one-of-a-kind focal point, as Read More
CropLife 100ARA Selects The Andersons As 2015 Retailer Of The Year
December 9, 2015
The Agricultural Retailers Association today named Maumee, OH-based The Andersons as its Retailer of the Year for 2015. The award Read More
CPS Washington Court House John Deere Sprayer
CropLife 100Application Equipment Report: It Is Easy Being Green For Top 100 Ag Retailers
December 5, 2015
On The Muppets television show, Kermit the Frog is famous for singing a song about the troubles he encounters in Read More
Fertilizer Bin
CropLife 100Fertilizer Sales: Another Down Year For Top 100 Ag Retailers
December 4, 2015
In pure number terms, the fertilizer category still dominates all crop inputs/services among CropLife 100 ag retailers. In 2015, for Read More
Latest News
Crop InputsBayer Contests EPA’s Decision On Valuable Insecticide F…
February 5, 2016
Crop Science, a division of Bayer, has announced it has refused a request by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to Read More
Wheat Field North Dakota
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Wins Seed Fraud Suit Against South Dakota Grow…
February 5, 2016
Syngenta has obtained a $25,000 settlement from Paul and John Mayclin, Mayclin Farms, Plankinton, SD, in response to their Plant Read More
ManagementOABA Annual Conference Wraps Up In Columbus
February 5, 2016
More than 300 Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) members and industry professionals were on hand to engage in collaborative learning and Read More
Crop InputsBayer To Contest EPA Flubendiamide Decision
February 5, 2016
Crop Science, a division of Bayer, announced today it has refused a request by EPA to voluntarily cancel the uses Read More
Syngenta
Seed/BiotechNot So Fast: ChemChina Syngenta Takeover Could Draw Nat…
February 5, 2016
State-owned China National Chemical Corp. (ChemChina), which plans to buy Swiss seeds and pesticide maker Syngenta, will promptly start preparations Read More
Rendering of Syngenta Seedcare Institute expansion
Seed/BiotechExpansion Of Syngenta’s North America Seedcare In…
February 4, 2016
As demand for seed treatment knowledge and products grows among farmers, retailers and others in the seed industry, Syngenta is Read More
Soybean Field
Industry NewsArysta LifeScience Strengthens Sales Team
February 4, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced three new personnel additions: Jake Cook and Peter White are Territory Sales Managers for Read More
Davor Pisk Syngenta COO
Crop InputsSyngenta COO: Why ChemChina Offer Beat Monsanto’s
February 4, 2016
Syngenta Chief Operating Officer Davor Pisk says he is confident the proposed acquisition by ChemChina will ultimately help preserve choice Read More
Young corn plants in soil
Crop InputsKoch Biological Solutions Invests In Pathway Biologic
February 4, 2016
An affiliate of Koch Biological Solutions, LLC has acquired a minority equity position in, and entered into collaboration with, Pathway Read More
Crop InputsABG: China Signs Off On Monsanto’s Roundup Ready …
February 3, 2016
Monsanto Co. on Wednesday announced it plans to launch its Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans in time for the 2016 Read More
Syngenta headquarters in Basel, Switzerland
Crop Inputs6 Things To Know About The ChemChina-Syngenta Deal
February 3, 2016
After months of rumors and speculation, Syngenta has announced that ChemChina has offered to acquire the Swiss-based company. “In making Read More
FertilizerPhosphorus: Is Band Or Broadcast Application The Better…
February 3, 2016
Is band or broadcast application the better method when it comes to phosphorus? The answer to this question depends mostly Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsChemChina Nearing Deal To Buy Syngenta For Record $43 B…
February 3, 2016
China National Chemical Corp. is nearing an agreement to buy Swiss pesticide-and-seeds-maker Syngenta AG for about 43.7 billion francs ($42.8 Read More
Herbicides2015 ASA Trials Demonstrate Valent Fierce XLT Herbicide…
February 2, 2016
Valent U.S.A. today announced that new Fierce XLT Soybean Herbicide ranks in the top tier among growers for length of Read More
Crop Protection Products in storage
Paul SchrimpfCrop Input Selling: Return Of The Price List
February 2, 2016
It was a good 15 years ago, shortly after I first started writing for this esteemed publication, that it all Read More
Potash storage at Growmark
FertilizerThe Phosphate And Potash Outlook For 2016
February 2, 2016
Like other commodities, prices of the leading plant nutrient products dropped sharply in 2015. At this writing, the price of Read More
Chesapeake Bay
StewardshipKeeping A Watch On Water Issues
February 2, 2016
During a down cycle in the market, it’s difficult to think about investing for the long term. For retail businesses, Read More
Young Corn Plants
FertilizerNutrient Considerations For Low Corn Prices
February 2, 2016
Corn prices are low and many producers are asking tough questions about their nutrient management programs. Here are some suggestions Read More