by Clyde Kornegay via TAAA
This past month TAAA had an opportunity to participate in a Texas Department of Agriculture training program. Every year TDA conducts training for all field inspectors from across the state, and this year’s training was held on February 8 in San Marcos, Texas. This event serves as an introduction for new inspectors and a refresher for the veterans. They have heavy workloads, with only about 45 inspectors covering 254 counties throughout Texas! They are responsible for monitoring compliance with state and Federal pesticide use laws. This includes all commercial, non-commercial, and private applications by all aerial applicators, farmers, exterminators, ornamental lawn personnel, City employees spraying right of way, etc. With help from Brad Tullis, Perry Cervantes, and others at TDA, included participation from TAAA representing ag pilots and operators. Brad Lauderdale and Clyde Kornegay attended this training representing the association and our Texas community of aerial applicators.
Unfortunately, most often, a TDA inspector’s only exposure to our community comes as an inspection or an investigation into possible violations. Our participation allowed the inspectors to walk around an ag-aircraft and speak with a pilot and an operator outside of the framework of an inspection and investigation. It was also an opportunity to discuss all the work applicators put into mitigating problems and describing the environment in which we work.
Brad Lauderdale, a central Texas operator/pilot and board member of TAAA, was kind enough to fly his new Air Tractor 502XP to San Marcos to give the inspectors a close-up look at the equipment being used out in the field. In addition to many of the same equipment installed on most of the aircraft in the state, Brad’s airplane is equipped with CapstanAg’s SwathPRO system, which just received its STC approval for installation on new Air Tractors. There is a lot of variation in dispersal equipment throughout the state. Brad did a great job explaining the similarities and differences in equipment operating in the field.
Brad and Clyde explained in detail not just the workings of the equipment we are all using but also the efforts that everyone goes through trying to minimize drift, adhere to label restrictions, and respond to complaints in ways that address concerns while still getting the job done. Another aspect of our business that was discussed in detail is the obstacle-filled environment in which we work day in and day out during the spray season. The response from the inspectors was enthusiastic and very positive. The event was well received by all TDA personnel present, and our hope is that TAAA and TDA will continue to work together to make this an annual event, fostering both training and goodwill between all of us moving forward.s