Aerial application is an integral part of production agriculture. Highly skilled pilots use specialized aircraft to safely and effectively apply seed, fertilizer and crop production products.
In the industry’s beginnings, all of the products applied were crop materials. Consequently the term “crop dusting” came to describe the pilots that applied materials at low altitude to control disease and insect infestation. The aircraft used to make these applications were surplus military aircraft. However, flying at low altitudes with heavy loads with numerous landings and takeoffs required the development of specialized aircraft.
Today, modern agricultural aircraft are highly specialized, sole purpose aircraft that use Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) software to make precision applications. Sophisticated dispersal systems monitoring flow rates for optimum dispersal and calibration software that assures the correct amount of today,s highly selective agricultural chemicals are applied. Beneficial bugs have also been dispersed and agriculture (Ag) pilots routinely make applications on organic crops. Without the efficient and timely use of modern crop protection products, it is estimated that over 50% of our agricultural commodities would be lost to pest infestation. Ag pilots also make mosquito applications to reduce populations that can transmit West Nile or Zika virus.
Modern community supported agriculture Ag pilots are highly trained professionals. Pilots are licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) and must register annually with the ag commissioner in each county that they plan to work in. Pilots are required to earn continuing education every two years to maintain their CDPR licenses. Just over 400 pilots are licensed through CDPR.
The average ag pilot has over 20 years of ag flying time. Many of the pilots in California have significantly more experience.
Additionally, Aerial Pest Control Operators are licensed under the FAA Part 137 regulations, licensed by CDPR, register with county ag commissioners and must comply with regulatory oversight from numerous other state and county agencies.
The California Agricultural Aircraft Association has served hundreds of business throughout our state for over 70 years. Below are some areas of CAAA involvement.