Find The Ideal Aerial Operation

Aerial Application, Air Tractor

Once dealers make the decision to partner with an established aerial business, it may not be difficult to find a good fit. The ag aerial universe is rather small. Tony Goede, aerial manager with BASF Corp., cites the 1990s film that claims there are merely “Six Degrees of Separation” between any two people on the planet – in the aerial application world there are only about, umm, two degrees, he says.

It’s “really easy” to check someone out either through the national or state association or another ag operator, says Kevin Brown, Bluestem Aerial Sprayers, Cushing, OK.

In fact, membership in national and state associations can be a good indicator of the professionalism of a pilot, said many industry contacts we talked with. The largest group in the U.S. is the National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA), headquartered in Washington D.C. The organization has a great number of resources available to keep aviation businesses informed (including training), as well as a team that lobbies for the industry’s interests on Capitol Hill and beyond. Its sharp website and magazine are gold mines of information for both those working in ag aerial companies and those outside the industry with questions.

Go local, suggested our contacts. These operators have the best understanding of potential issues of the local geography. If a neighbor company is not able to take on your clients, the owner will often times call in another trusted operator from outside the area to help, says Loren Koemen, regional business analyst with Wilbur-Ellis Co.

Ask growers, too, where to find pilots. Growers themselves have a pretty good network and know who the good aerial applicators are, says Gary Fellows, tech service fungicide and seed treatment manager with BASF: “They want to use the best.”

Details About Operations

In fact, experience that makes a company “the best” is a key factor to check into. Ask how long a pilot has been in business and touch on what kind of track record he’s had with issues such as drift. Make sure the operation has all the equipment and technology – in good condition – that it needs, as well as support staff such as a mechanic.

Also ask if an applicator attends plane calibration clinics each year, such as Operation S.A.F.E. (Self-Regulating Application & Flight Efficiency) fly-ins, offered by NAAA. The association actually publishes a list of attendees on its web site. State departments of agriculture can also provide pilot information.

Scott Schartz, owner of Schertz Aerial Service, Hudson, IL, listed some other good nuts and bolts issues to cover: Find out if the business carries all necessary liability insurance and workers’ compensation. Check out its facilities, containment structures, safety measures, and inspection requirements. Make sure applicators have all licenses and certification. And ask about any network that the company might be a part of and about how it manages additional planes to help at peak work load times.

A specific service valued by Mike Carrell, branch manager of Ceres LLP at Wingate, IN, was the ability to provide as-applied maps. “When we first started using aerial, customers were watching planes from a mile away and swearing our contractors were spraying the wrong field – or not spraying at all,” explains Carrell. An as-applied map stapled to the job invoice sent to the grower solves the problem.

Many of our contacts stressed the need to build a solid relationship with aerial applicators. Aerial companies with that positive bond and good communication deliver better service and can fulfill the demands of a retailer, especially when they need to forecast workload and bring in other pilots if needed, says Goede.

A major point made by all our industry contacts was the level of professionalism evidenced in the ag aerial industry today. Gone are the days of the wild-eyed cropdusters that many in the general public still cling to. The majority of applicators are highly skilled pilots and businessmen committed to their customers and communities.

Leave a Reply

Aerial Application Stories

Aerial ApplicationAerial Application Special Report – Sponsored by Air Tractor
September 1, 2012
As the 2012 season winds down in the United States, the trend I’ve seen in previous years continues...more and more growers are choosing aerial application to control diseases and pests. 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