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What is Aerial Applications

Today's crop dusting business is completely different, with million-dollar turbine engined aircraft outfitted with GPS systems with auto boom technology being operated by highly-skilled, experienced and well-trained pilots. If you are interested in pursuing a career in the aerial application industry please read on.


1. It's not called "Crop Dusting" anymore. The term "Crop Dusting" automatically brings to mind the previously mentioned image, so today's pilots generally prefer the term "Aerial Application" or Ag Application." The pilots themselves are referred to as "Ag Pilots" or "Aerial Applicators."


2. The first aerial application wasn't from a plane. The first aerial application of agricultural materials (that we know of) was done by a hot air balloon with mobile tethers in 1906 in Wairoa, New Zealand. It was flown by a man named John Chaytor, who spread seed over a swamped valley floor.


3. Organizations like the Saskatchewan Aerial Applicators Association (SAAA) along with the Canadian Aerial Applicators Association (CAAA) have been working to change the stereotype of the cavalier ag pilot over 45 years. Our mission is to promote and foster the development of aerial application and the significance that it plays on a global scale. Our top priorities are education, training and safety to maintain a positive public perspective on aerial application.


4. Ag pilots undergo a great deal of training.  Ag pilots start from the ground up. Mixing for a year or two helps to inspire Ag pilots and fully understand ground operations and builds a solid foundation in the aerial application industry. Mixers that hold a Canadian Commercial Pilots Licenses often attend an Ag School to learn the In-Outs of Aerial Application and learn safe and professional application technics before moving into a seat. Ag Pilots also have to study and pass a closed book Pesticide Applicators License exam for the province they will be applicating in. Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba DO NOT recognize each-others province Pesticide License. Separate Exams have to be completed. Once completed, licenses are valid for 5 years and can be renewed by attending credit sessions (15 Credits) put on annually by Saskatchewan Aerial Applicators Association. 


5.  Ag aircraft have come along away from the rickety old biplane. Aircraft are outfitted with GPS systems that provide guidance accuracy within three feet and guide the pilot using a light bar and electronic mapping system. Recent technological developments in aerial imaginary, prescription mapping and dispersal systems have revolutionized the aerial application industry. Auto boom technology is being used in forestry and is now being used in row crop applications.


6. Ag Aircraft isn't just used for applying crop aid products. In areas prone to wildfires, ag aircraft also serve double duty as water bombers. With the increase of turbine-powered aircraft in Saskatchewan. Aerial application has evolved from Row Crop Application. Saskatchewan Aerial Applicators are currently working alongside the Saskatchewan Government to create and sustain a S.E.A.T program in Saskatchewan to assist local communities and firefighters. Many Saskatchewan Operators are involved in helping combat the Spruce Bud Worm breakout in Quebec for the past 8+ years.


7. The flying involved in aerial application is technically challenging and occasionally hazardous, so it is imperative that the pilot knows what they are doing. Aerial Application is not for everyone. Attending an Ag School always highly recommended and perfect opportunity to see if the aerial application industry is for you. Aerial application is a very dangerous profession that not only requires a higher than normal flight skills, but mentorship is a huge part of an Ag pilot's development becoming a safe and professional Ag pilot.


8. Ag Pilots are in high demand. The airline industry is projected to grow, at the same time many pilots are retiring from the airlines and are creating a pilot shortage in our Ag Industry. The pilot used to come out of Commercial flight school into Ag to build time and develop superior flight handling and decision making before qualifying for an Airline position. If you are interested in becoming an Ag Pilot. Visit our Member Map and Contact an Operator or Induvial at any time or submit your question below. 

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