"Crop dusting" is an outdated term. Today, most applications are in liquid form. Additionally, today's aerial applicators do much more than control insects, weeds and diseases. They can "plant" seeds from the air, fertilize and add nutrients to the soil, help clean up oil spills in the ocean and harbors – even fight wildfires!
Why is it called aerial application?
Who are agricultural pilots and what kind of aircraft do they fly?
Aerial agricultural pilots are highly-trained professionals, over 90 percent of whom are owner-operators. Many ag operations are family businesses that have been at work over 20 years. Operators fly specially designed helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. All aircraft use sophisticated equipment such as Global Positioning System, flow controls and precisely calibrated spray equipment to ensure accuracy in product application.
What are the advantages of aerial application and is it safe?
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 be more environmentally friendly, too, as its use reduces soil erosion by as much as 90 percent, by assisting no-till or minimum till operations which preserve the integrity of the soil. All crop protection products must meet tough safety standards. Once on the market, they are monitored by the EPA, and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This ensures the safety of the fresh fruits and vegetables we can enjoy year-round.
Who regulates aerial applicators?
Agencies ranging from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Department of Transportation (DOT), and individual State Departments of Agriculture, Ecology and Environment regulate aerial applicators. Pertinent personnel inspect operations and require specific documentation of each field sprayed. The industry monitors itself through the National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA).