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
Aerial ApplicationThe Role Of Aerial Application
September 1, 2012
CropLife Contributing Editor Lisa Heacox examines the explosive growth in aerial application in recent years. Read More
Aerial ApplicationA Snapshot Of Aerial Application
September 1, 2012
To understand how aerial application is viewed by the marketplace, CropLife conducted a survey of its readers, which produced some interesting results. Read More
Aerial application nozzles at work.
Aerial ApplicationAerial Applicators Can Join Resistance Fight
September 1, 2012
Aerial application, when used in a systematic approach to crop protection, can deliver prompt, accurate and efficient control of pests and resistant weed species. Read More
Trending Articles
Soybean Plant closeup
Industry NewsMonsanto Rejects Bayer Bid; Open To More Talks
May 25, 2016
Monsanto Co, the world’s largest seed company, turned down Bayer AG’s $62 billion acquisition bid as “incomplete and financially inadequate” Read More
Eric SfiligojPity The Monsanto Haters
May 23, 2016
An old saying goes thus: “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.” Given current events, there Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Crop InputsReport: Bayer Eyeing Monsanto For Possible Mega-Merger
May 16, 2016
Bayer AG is exploring a potential bid for U.S. competitor Monsanto Co. in a deal that would create the world’s Read More
Aerial Drone
Precision AgA Deeper Dive Into The Future Of Precision Ag
May 9, 2016
For about two decades now, through the good and the bad times, the ups and the downs inherent in agriculture, Read More
Palmer amaranth in soybean stubble
HerbicidesWSSA: Billions In Potential Economic Losses From Uncontrolled Weeds
May 4, 2016
What losses would corn and soybean growers experience if they were forced to eliminate herbicides and other control techniques from Read More
Eric SfiligojReasons For Hope In Commodity Prices
May 2, 2016
For many months now, the doomsayers have ruled the day in agriculture. Too much supply with too little demand would Read More
Latest News
FertilizerSimplot Introduces Fused-Safe Ammonium Sulfate Nitrate …
May 31, 2016
The J. R. Simplot Co.’s new FŪSN fertilizer is now commercially available to growers. Simplot uses advanced technology to fuse Read More
Growmark FS Outlet
StewardshipGROWMARK Recognizes Crop Specialists For Advocating Sus…
May 31, 2016
Five crop specialists who have excelled in engaging farmers in sustainable best management practices are the recipients of the GROWMARK Read More
Fertilizer Dealer Supply
UncategorizedFertilizer Dealer Supply Joins GVM
May 31, 2016
GVM has added Fertilizer Dealer Supply (FDS) to its growing network of Mako dealers. “I met Mark Anderson some 20 years Read More
Crop InputsRepar Registers New Biopesticide With U.S. EPA
May 31, 2016
Repar Corp., with headquarters in Silver Spring, MD, has developed Homobrassinolide 0.1%, a new generation plant growth promoter containing homobrassinolide, Read More
Industry NewsAligned Ag Distributors Names New VP Market Development
May 31, 2016
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC announced this morning the appointment of Tim Krueger to the position of VP Market Development. Krueger Read More
FertilizerCreating The Proper Environment For Yield Increases Wit…
May 31, 2016
Finely tuned nutrient management plans are helping farmers throughout the U.S. improve nutrient use efficiency, increase return on investment (ROI) Read More
Industry NewsJ.R. Simplot Names New Wholesale Agriculture Sales Vice…
May 31, 2016
Doug Stone will be joining the J. R. Simplot Co. as vice president, Wholesale Agricultural Sales within the Simplot AgriBusiness Read More
Adjuvants loading
AdjuvantsISAA 2016 Highlights Adjuvant Trends
May 31, 2016
Adjuvants can significantly improve the performance of crop protection products. Farmers and formulators enhance the efficacy of sprays by using Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Eric SfiligojWhat’s Next For Monsanto?
May 31, 2016
For the folks at Monsanto’s headquarters in St. Louis, MO, it has been an eventful few weeks. Back on May Read More
Craig Houin Sunrise Cooperative iPad
Precision AgState Of Precision Ag 2016: Gut Check Time For Value
May 31, 2016
There’s no denying that precision technologies and practices are more vibrant than ever. Equipment manufacturers have fine-tuned the hardware for Read More
ManagementWashington Visit and Bayer/Monsanto Deal Update
May 26, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discusses a recent trip to DC and the latest news on the proposed pairing Read More
Fertilizer closeup in hand
Industry NewsVerdesian: Striking A Balance Between Yield & ROI
May 26, 2016
Finely tuned nutrient management plans are helping farmers throughout the U.S. improve nutrient use efficiency, increase return on investment (ROI) Read More
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes Announces Minnesota Water Quality Pa…
May 25, 2016
Governor Mark Dayton and Land O’Lakes, Inc. President and CEO Chris Policinski today announced a new public-private partnership to protect Read More
Soybean Plant closeup
Industry NewsMonsanto Rejects Bayer Bid; Open To More Talks
May 25, 2016
Monsanto Co, the world’s largest seed company, turned down Bayer AG’s $62 billion acquisition bid as “incomplete and financially inadequate” Read More
Corn close up
Crop InputsArysta LifeScience Establishes Global Headquarters In R…
May 25, 2016
Arysta LifeScience has announced plans to relocate its global headquarters from West Palm Beach, FL, to Cary, NC, over the Read More
fertilizer blending and storage, Top 100
BlendersCHS Dakota Expansion Features AGCO’s GSI InterSys…
May 25, 2016
The continued growth of precision agriculture has increased farmer use of customized fertilizer blends best-suited for their soil conditions. Several Read More
ManagementAgriculture 3.5: A Bumpy Road Ahead
May 24, 2016
You may have read my article a few years ago on Agriculture 3.0, which is a term I coined to Read More
Topcon’s X30 display with CropSpec sensors
EquipmentGPS Autosteer Systems: Product Updates From Precision A…
May 24, 2016
Throughout 2015 GPS Steering solutions continued to evolve from what was once an after-market add on, to today’s cab where Read More