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

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
EmployeesAsmark Institute Dedicates New Training Center To Ford West
August 6, 2014
The Asmark Institute plans to recognize the retired industry leader's years of service to the fertilizer industry at the new state-of-the-art facility in Owensboro, KY. Read More
LegislationUSDA: Quick Implementation Of Disaster Assistance Programs A ‘Top Priority’
July 9, 2014
USDA has processed 106,000 payments to farmers in 40 states across the country who suffered livestock and grazing losses between Oct. 2011 and passage of the 2014 Farm Bill. Read More

Trending Articles

CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More
EquipmentNew Holland Acquires Miller-St. Nazianz
September 3, 2014
The assets of Miller acquired as part of the transaction will become part of New Holland Agriculture, a CNH Industrial brand, building on a successful four-year partnership between the two companies. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More
ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science Review
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More
EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More

Latest News

NIMITZ Treated vs Untreated pepper plant
InsecticidesNIMITZ Nematicide Approved By EPA
September 12, 2014
NIMITZ is a novel, non-fumigant nematicide with simplified application features, user safety and an active ingredient with a unique mode of action. Read More
InsecticidesMarrone Bio Innovations Receives Patent For Chromobacte…
September 11, 2014
The patent is the first step for MBI in developing a commercially viable product to inhibit infestations of corn rootworm larvae across America and other regions. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences: Keeping The Pipeline Stocked
September 11, 2014
Dow AgroSciences is embracing product diversity to drive the company’s future. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Is Official Partner Of New St. Paul Ballpark
September 10, 2014
The new ballpark in St. Paul, MN, officially became CHS Field with Twin Cities-based CHS Inc. revealed as the naming rights partner. Read More
EquipmentHagie Honors Farming Stewardship Leaders
September 10, 2014
The Iowa Farm Environmental Leader award recognizes Iowa farmers as environmental leaders that are committed to healthy soils and improved water quality. Read More
Precision AgPlantBeat: Your Plants’ Pulse In The Palm Of Your Han…
September 10, 2014
A new agronomic monitoring and recommendation service from Phytech could rewrite the book on real-time plant health status monitoring. Read More
StewardshipCCAs Making Headway With 4R Program In Lake Erie Wester…
September 9, 2014
Certified Crop Advisers are implementing the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification program in Lake Erie's Western Basin to improve water quality. Read More
MicronutrientsMicronutrients Going Macro
September 9, 2014
Between 2014’s fantastic growing conditions and a heightened awareness on plant nutrition, the major players in micronutrients are gearing up for another big year. Read More
Crop InputsFMC Announces Cheminova Takeover
September 8, 2014
FMC Corporation today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Cheminova, a wholly owned subsidiary of Auriga Industries. Read More
HerbicidesValent’s Fierce XLT Herbicide Receives EPA Approv…
September 8, 2014
Valent U.S.A. Corp. announced today that Fierce XLT Soybean Herbicide is now federally registered for preemergence weed control in soybeans Read More
Eric SfiligojIndustry Consolidation Set To Increase Going Forward
September 8, 2014
As the agricultural marketplace moves into fall, one observer predicts the pace of consolidation will grow at all levels. Read More
LegislationCropLife America Leaders Address Regulatory Landscape, …
September 8, 2014
As CropLife America enters its 81st year, the organization’s leaders have seen another period of rapid and visible policy and public issue activity. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
Precision AgPrecision Agriculture: Finding The Payback
September 6, 2014
Profitability in precision ag is not about any one technology, but the result of employing technology in a total system approach that is agronomically sound. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires North Dakota Retailer
September 5, 2014
Wilbur-Ellis Co. has acquired the assets of Poynter’s Ag Supply, a retail facility and Wilbur-Ellis alliance partner located in Sawyer, ND. Read More
Crop InputsAg Leader Chris Novak To Become NCGA CEO
September 5, 2014
Industry veteran Chris Novak will take the place of 14-year veteran Rick Tolman, who earlier this year announced his intention to retire from the organization. Read More
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakot…
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More
Crop InputsBayer CropScience Plans Further Growth In U.S., Opens N…
September 5, 2014
After the official inauguration of Bayer CropScience's new integrated R&D site in West Sacramento, CA, the company aims to grow faster than the U.S. market. Read More