Aerial application has become one of the most widely used crop spraying methods in British Columbia and across Canada. This fact is not surprising when you consider the flexibility and benefits it offers growers. Aerial application has been widely used in Western Canada, where it has been a commonly used spray method for years. It seems that now, the rest of Canada is finally catching on to the idea due to the benefits of helicopters being able to spray large tracts of land with few barriers and a low potential for spray drift.
Helicopters are able to treat more fields on a daily basis, and have the ability to fly closer to the fields and do not have to travel back and forth to an airport for product or refuelling. Helicopters are also able to fly slower than a plane at a rate of 100 km/h compared to a plane which travels at 200 km/h, thereby allowing helicopters to get closer to obstructions because they do not have to pull up as soon. Additionally, they are much more effective than traditional planes where field sizes are smaller and other impediments such as tree lines, buildings, hydro lines and radio towers surround farmland and the pilot requires the agility of a helicopter.
Additionally, it was noted in a recent article that “In the late 1970s and early 1980s, we devoted three to four machines to agricultural applications, but the amount of work slowly decreased as products were replaced with ones that weren’t being registered by the PMRA (Pest Management Regulatory Agency) for aerial application,” “Now we’re seeing crop protection companies developing more products registered for aerial application, giving us the opportunity to get back into the market and giving growers another application option.”
The benefits of aerial application
Aerial application offers a distinct benefit over ground application including fungicides, insecticides and some fall desiccants as well as most painting applications. Rotary aircraft are also able to get to a field quickly and cover large areas in a very short period of time, which is often critical when dealing with disease and insect control. Helicopters are also not limited by wet soil conditions so you don’t have to worry about damage or losses from tracking or compaction. Additionally, because helicopters are not in the field, they don’t spread fungal spores from one field to another.
In a recent article, Dr. Trevor Kraus, supervisor of research and commercial development and technical development for with BASF Canada, these are just some of the many reasons the company included aerial application on its Headline fungicide label. “We have certainly seen an increase in the aerial application over the last few years, and it’s been very advantageous for growers. In particular, as more corn growers protect their crops against disease with Headline fungicide, aerial application is a great option because the fungicide needs to be applied when the crop is at tassel, which is when it is fairly tall.”
If you are currently considering the benefits of aerial application, we invite you to contact us so that we can offer you any advice and answer all of your questions.
These photos are from a Hunter Helicopters family day adventure