What are the advantages of Aerial Application and is it safe?
Aerial Application Advantages – When pests or disease threaten a crop, time is critical. Aerial application is often the fastest means of getting the necessary protection products to the affected crop. It can also be the most economical, as less fuel is used. And it can also be more environmentally friendly as its use reduces soil erosion by as much as 90 percent by assisting no-till or minimum till operations preserve the integrity of the soil. All crop protection products must meet tough safety standards. Once on the market, they are monitored by the PMRA, and Health Canada. This ensures the safety of the grains, fresh fruits and vegetables we enjoy year-round.
Virtues of aerial application
For many years it was assumed that aerial spraying costs more than ground applications. That may have been true when ground spraying equipment was less sophisticated, but times have changed and research shows those old assumptions may not be valid. The advancement of spray technology and production styles have made the ground vs aerial debate more about what method is most suitable for each farm.
Hiring an Aerial Applicator means fewer tracks in the crop, and with the weight of equipment increasing dramatically over the last decade the damage is extending deeper into the soil profile. It’s pretty simple; plants grow best in soft soil and wheels work best on hard surfaces. Growing conditions for the plants are improved and nutrient efficiencies and more aggressive plant rooting are obtained by avoiding soil compaction. Such soil properties are especially valuable in years of drought and can improve yields significantly. In 2003, Blair Geisel of Gaia Consulting Limited near Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, conducted research evaluating the yield loss resulting from soil compaction and damage to foliage caused by the ground sprayer wheels. Where anecdotal evidence indicated that yield losses occurred in the wheel tracks following repeated sprayer passes, Geisel’s research proved those suspicions to be true. ’’There is soil compaction and damage to foliage in wheel tracks of all ground applications.”
The way to achieve an effective fungicide application
If there is one area that cannot be argued, it is that ground sprayers can increase the spread of fungal disease by carrying it through the crop after the sprayer brushes diseased plants. Aerial applicators can apply fungicide when fields are very wet. They can spray large acreages in a short period of time and they eliminate the tracks in a field. The effectiveness of the application can be enhanced by properly calibrated equipment. Often ground equipment may not be properly calibrated as it isn’t a regulatory requirement for ground applicators. An Agricultural Engineer from the University of Arkansas with many years experience in Canada and the US, and an applicator himself, Dennis Gardisser says there are concerns about the amount of water required but he believes droplet size is more important than volume. “On average, 300 to 350 microns hitting the plant per spray provides the most effective application, no matter how it is accomplished,” he says.
“Why would I hire a custom ground applicator to do my fungicide or insecticide, pay him the $5 an acre and then also lose money from vehicle tracks? The airplane just makes sense if I have one available to work with”