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

CropLife 100CHS: Driving Momentum To Help Farmer-Owners Grow
December 11, 2014
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, must capture new opportunities to Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT, Verdesian Ink Distribution Agreement
December 9, 2014
The agreement grants BRANDT the exclusive right to sell and market Verdesian’s patented Steric chemistry in the Turf and Ornamental and eastern U.S. ag markets under the BRANDT Reaction product line name. Read More
CropLife 100CropLife 100: The Colors Of Custom Application
December 5, 2014
Although many color spray rigs are in the yards of the nation’s top ag retailers, the majority of them still come in only a few shades. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Invests In Meridian Agriculture Distribution
December 4, 2014
Meridian will provide retailers with supplier-branded products and numerous opportunities to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Read More
CropLife 100CropLife 100: Entering A New Seed Era
December 4, 2014
The seed category has been re-vitalized during the past few years, and more good news (and varieties) are headed the industry’s way in 2015. Read More
CropLife 100CropLife 100: The Depressed State Of Fertilizer
December 3, 2014
Following downright giddy growth earlier this decade, fertilizer sales have fallen back down to earth the past two years. Read More

Latest News

Seed/BiotechKaren Arthur Joins AgriThority As Seed Treatment Produc…
December 19, 2014
Prior to joining AgriThority, Arthur directed research and development programs, overseeing laboratory and field research, to build the Valent U.S.A. seed treatment portfolio. Read More
EquipmentJohn Deere To Sell Crop Insurance Business
December 19, 2014
Deere & Co. has reached a definitive agreement to sell its crop insurance business, subject to regulatory approval, to Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. of Iowa. Read More
Crop InputsNufarm Fills Regulatory VP Position
December 18, 2014
Nufarm announced today that Rob Schwehr has been promoted to the position of Vice President of Innovation & Regulatory Affairs for Nufarm Americas. Read More
Seed/BiotechReport: China Approves Viptera Corn, U.S. Officials Awa…
December 17, 2014
Chinese authorities have informed some agriculture industry officials the government has approved U.S. imports of a type of genetically modified corn developed by Syngenta. Read More
FertilizerMonty’s Plant Food Brings In New Sales Rep
December 16, 2014
Monty's Plant Food Company has hired Warren Kearns as its newest Sales Representative for the South Carolina area. Read More
EquipmentHagie Wins 2014 CropLife IRON Product Of The Year Award
December 15, 2014
The self-propelled sprayer maker has a hit on its hands with the new STS Series model. Read More
Syngenta
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Sees China Approving Contentious GMO Corn Soon
December 15, 2014
Syngenta will make an announcement when it receives official documentation from China that Agrisure Viptera corn, known as MIR 162, has been cleared for import. Read More
Crop InputsVerdesian Life Sciences Names Vice President Of Communi…
December 15, 2014
Amy Bugg will oversee the execution of all promotional strategies for the corporate brand and the complete product portfolio. Read More
StewardshipFarmers, Retailers Attend 4R Certification 4U Workshop
December 15, 2014
More than 160 farmers and ag retailer attended the “4R Certification 4U” workshop December 12 to learn more about the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship, water quality research in the area and cost-sharing opportunities. Read More
Matt Hopkins10 Best New Agriculture Apps For 2015
December 15, 2014
These new agriculture apps are certain to help ag professionals do their jobs more efficiently in 2015 and beyond. Read More
ManagementARA Learnings, Retail Buying Intentions: Welcome To Cro…
December 12, 2014
This informal video program puts news and events effecting retailers into context, and features Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Herbicide-Tolerant Technology Closer To Commer…
December 12, 2014
The final EIS moves Monsanto one step closer to the introduction of Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton and Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, paving the way to provide access to dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton. Read More
Seed/BiotechUSDA Issues Final Environmental Impact Statement On Her…
December 12, 2014
The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is issuing a final environmental impact statement on varieties of cotton and soybeans that have been genetically engineered for resistance to several herbicides, including the one known as dicamba. Read More
CropLife 100CHS: Driving Momentum To Help Farmer-Owners Grow
December 11, 2014
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, must capture new opportunities to Read More
LegislationARA Applauds CFATS Passage Prior To Holiday Adjournment
December 11, 2014
The streamlined bill provides a four-year authorization of the CFATS program and guidance to DHS on key issues of chemical facility security Read More
Seed/BiotechBayer CropScience’s ILeVO Approved By EPA
December 11, 2014
EPA has approved ILeVO, the only seed treatment that protects the root system against infections caused by the Sudden Death Syndrome fungus and has activity against dangerous nematodes. Read More
Biologicals in Emerging Markets Map.
Crop InputsBiocontrols Could Quadruple By 2025; Will Regulators Pl…
December 11, 2014
The European experience with GMOs offers caution — and a promise — for biologicals. Read More
Crop InputsBASF Donates $75,000 To Feeding America
December 10, 2014
The donation will support Feeding America’s National Produce Program, an initiative that helps with planning, transportation and logistics to ensure fresh produce deliveries to the 200 member food banks around the country. Read More