Here’s another series of great facts about aerial application to share with people on your social media channels, your schools, etc. We all know everything aerial application can do, but not everyone else does! Let’s go beyond “chemicals.” As a career writer and dedicated “myth buster” in food and farming, one of my favorite topics to discuss with the general public is the topic of crop dusters. Although that term is outdated, it’s still worthy of a discussion. Do people outside of our industry still only think of chemicals when they think of ag pilots and aerial application?
The reality is that agricultural aviation has a beautiful story to tell and is amazing at solving all sorts of problems. While the average person who’s far removed from where their food comes from may only think of keeping scary unknown chemicals out of their food, it’s essential to share the transparency of the safety of the food supply and how ag pilots solve a ton of real-world problems!
According to a study at Texas A&M University, the agriculture industry in the US would lose $37 Billion a year if aerial application ceased and $18.3 Billion in the corn market alone. If farmers weren’t able to protect their crops, it is said that up to 80% of the world’s food and fiber would be lost. These are alarming statistics that point out the importance of this great industry!
But what other problems do you all solve? Besides protecting crops, here are six other notable uses and purposes for ag pilots that do good to share with the world…. you do way more than contribute to the food supply!
- Seeding cover crops. Soil Health and regenerative agriculture are hot topics in the media these days, and a couple of the best ways to improve soil health are to seed cover crops. Cover crops reduce erosion, improve nutrient retention and maximize inputs, deposit nutrients back in the soil, and improve overall water and environmental quality measures. Aerial application can also help reduce soil compaction and offer additional precision agriculture benefits.
- Nutrient application. Plants are living, just like people! And just like people, plants need food and medicine to survive. Without ag pilots, the world’s crops wouldn’t be nearly as healthy – and healthy plants make a healthy society. Cheers to aerial application for “feeding our food.”
- “Only you can fight forest fires!” Okay….more than just you. While Smokey the Bear preaches prevention, aerial firefighter pilots solve these problems, too! According to Cal Fire – the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection- approximately 5.4% of California’s total acreage was aflame at one time or another between 2013 and 2018. Ag pilots are skilled and trained to be precise and can play a significant role in putting out fires – literally and figuratively.
- Solve problems in remote areas like rural Alaska. Given the harsh weather and infrastructure challenges of Alaska, trucks cannot always get to the people that need fuel. Pilots can literally save lives by hauling heating and transportation fuel into rural communities to help people get from point A to point B and beyond.
- Stock lakes. Another problem in rural areas? Remote locations at high elevations pose challenges for animals, and parks and wildlife organizations partner with pilots for restoration efforts. Fishing plays a major role in providing healthy protein for the people, and the aviation industry can help restock waters to restore a healthy ecosystem and the fish population for a multitude of reasons.
- Remember the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico back in 2010? Airplanes were used to spread absorbent oil spill dispersant materials to help clean it up. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), dispersants are usually applied by airplane or helicopter, but also can be applied by boat. To increase the chances that an application will be effective, spill responders try to choose the best combination of dispersant droplet size, concentration, and application rate. They also try to target dispersant applications carefully, sometimes even using spotter planes that use infrared detectors to locate spilled oil as precisely as possible.
Sound familiar? That’s because the Ag aviation world is true experts in material handling such as this. Bravo to the skill set you possess to solve these other real-world problems that directly benefit the environment.
These are all conversations to be had with others around you… that the work you do can be way more than just agriculture! Pilots are responsible for so many facets of our day-to-day life that we may not always think about or take for granted. But thank YOU for all you do.