Aerial applicators are small commercial planes that are usually hired by farmers to spray their fields with chemicals such as pesticides or fertilizers, because these are smaller planes they can fly lower than normal commercial planes. Also, because they work from the air, they can spray in a couple minutes what would take a farmer all day to spray in his fields. Below are some common terms related to aerial applicators.
Crop Dusting – A slang word for spraying a field with a chemical application. The word comes from pesticides and fertilizers, which fall and appear like dust on the crops. A small airplane with application tanks is often called a duster.
Pesticide – A type of chemical that kills insects, which are called pests by farmers. Different pesticides make work differently with different types of insects. Some pesticides are more environmentally friendly than others. With the stronger pesticides, humans should keep out of the fields for at least a day after they have been applied.
Fungicide – A type of chemical that kills fungus that either harm or kill crops. Like pesticides, some types of fungicides are more environmentally friendly than others. Depending on the strength of the fungal infection, the crops may need more than one application.
Fertilizer – A chemical that once applied encourages plant growth. Fertilizers can be either natural or synthetic and often need more than one application.
Water Tanks – A water tank that can be hung from an aerial vehicle, usually a helicopter. They are often used in putting out forest fires that are too large or dangerous for humans to enter.
Crops need fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides to keep them growing and thriving. Since many crops on a farm are huge, covering several acres, getting these chemicals on them would be a daunting task if not for aerial applicators for use in agriculture. Aerial applicators use aircraft to provide maximum coverage of farmlands and fields. Using dusting, seeding, and spraying methods, aerial application is done from the air to cover as many crops as possible within the shortest amount of time.
Types of aircraft used for agriculture purposes include agricultural airplanes, helicopters and small turboprop jets. Some are meant for crop dusting, while others are made for spraying, but they all achieve a similar purpose. They typically fly at very fast speeds, more than 100 MPH, providing the most even, widespread coverage. However, chemical drifting can become an issue, so pilots must remain at a steady altitude: not too high so that the chemicals drift further than the targeted coverage area, but not so low that they can hit towers and silos. Pilots, spray operators, and loadmasters often use sophisticated aviation models to perfect their spray patterns, using just the right blend of thrust and speed. They must also use these models to take into account wind direction before spraying.
Also called air tractors or air tankers, an aerial application company can also provide water bombs in the case of wildfires. These crop duster planes release large amounts of water over an area to douse out-of-control flames. Farmers can hire aerial applicators and dusters to regularly spray their crops. Aerial applicators use a variety of equipment to achieve their jobs, such as platform controllers, storage tankers, nozzles, and pumps in conjunction with their air tractors.