Around the Farm – Assisting with Aerial Applications

Posted: August 20, 2021

It’s that time of year again when you see the yellow planes out diving over the corn fields! (At least it was when I wrote this at the end of July.) I love this time of year!

Several years ago I started helping one of those crazy guys dive bombing the corn in an air tractor. Over the last few years I have had less and less time to help out during flying season, but this year I still got to help out here and there when I had time and when he and his family needed an extra hand. 

When I tell people that I help with aerial pesticide application, most people ask me if I fly the planes. I definitely do not fly the planes since I don’t have my pilot’s license, nor do I have a commercial pesticide application license…nor do I probably have the guts to do it!

I help schedule fields that need to be sprayed and review fields once they have been flown – which sounds a bit less exciting than flying a plane, but someone needs to do it! 

This is one of the field maps that we print after a field has been sprayed. The blue lines are swaths that show where the field was sprayed. You can see that the pilot turned off the sprayer as he was flying over the grass water ways and around the farm yard.

It’s actually pretty cool to see the field maps once a field has been flown. You can actually see each swath a plane makes in the field. So, you can see if they missed a spot or sprayed outside of the boundaries of the field. I have actually never seen a map where the pilot has sprayed outside of the field boundary. If anything, I see some missing spots where the pilot was intentionally creating a buffer along a busy road or a farm yard. 

I actually prefer the pilot not to make a buffer around our farm yard when he sprays our fields. The pesticide they are spraying is a fungicide that helps fight disease in plants and improve the health of the plant. They only use two gallons of liquid per acre with the pesticide and most of that is water. As far as pesticides are concerned, it is a pretty safe way to apply them. This year my dad and I had both our beans and corn sprayed with a fungicide. Hot and humid weather that we had in July creates perfect conditions for disease to appear in the plants. And now that our corn and beans have been sprayed and fall is getting closer we are already preparing for harvest. More on that subject next time.