Aerial application is the use of aircraft to seed, fertilize and treat crops with protective products to control weeds, insects and fungi. It is used on conventional cropland as well as biological control. Aerial application is also used to treat forest-land, rangeland and pastures for livestock. It is an important part of food, fiber and bio-fuel production.
Aerial application allows rapid treatment of large areas, 3-4 times faster than any other form of application, using turbine aircraft at 140mph. This is especially important when application is needed within a narrow timeframe. Pest resistance can be limited by aerial applications ability to treat in a precise manner.
Aerial application can treat remote, hard to reach areas without causing any physical crop damage, where other methods cannot, due to surface water, wet soil, rolling terrain or dense plant foliage.
Aerial application can treat orchards and late stage crops or dense plant foliage without causing any physical crop damage, soil compaction and without carrying disease from field to field as compared to ground rig operations.
A reduction in soil compaction, reduced plant damage and less spreading of disease by aerial application results in higher yields, improved plant health, and if managed correctly, can absorb the cost of the aerial application, depending on yield and result, putting more money in your pocket.
As a general rule the more advanced the crop the greater the damage and the wetter the ground the greater the damage. When crops are advanced the damage is multiplied, as the vehicle chasis tend to damage the crop as well as the wheels.
Damage will be the greatest as tyre width increases and boom width decreases. Crops often recover visually from being run over but often these areas lag behind as grain ripens later or not at all. Damage will obviously vary with crop type, crop stage and other variables but a rule of thumb seems to be an average of 40% damage (ie. yield loss) to areas that are run over.