Aviation has improved and influenced many other industries for the better. One industry that has improved is Aerial Application or what is formerly known as Crop Dusting. This involves spraying crops with plant protection or improvement products. Some of these products are fertilizer, pesticides, seeds, etc. The crops are sprayed with product that is loaded onto specialized spray tanks that are mounted onto specially modified aircraft.
Crop dusting was born almost immediately as soon as the aircraft was invented. In 1906, John Chaytor in New Zealand spread seed in a swampy area using a hot air balloon. This created the realization that a single person could plant seeds (aerial top-dressing), apply fertilizer, and spray pesticide. All this can be done in a short period, with little man power, and cover a large area. The first use of a “heavier-than-air” aircraft in Aerial Application was done by the U. S military and the U. S Agricultural Department in 1921 in Dayton Ohio.
Aerial Application or Crop Dusting aircraft are specialized precision airplanes that are specifically built to spray pesticide, seeds, fertilizer, etc. in exact amounts. This aircraft have evolved with changing technology. Starting in the late 1990’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are now used for Crop Dusting in what is now known as Unmanned Aerial Application (UAA).
Aerial Application has spread and diversified farming into new realms. One such area is “Precision Farming” of Site Specific Crop Management (SSCM). This type of farming involves analyzing the soil type, water content, and determining the nutrition needed. This helps the farmer determine exactly where to apply nutrition, fertilizer, the areas that need more water during irrigation, pest control, etc.
Aerial platforms such as aircrafts make it easier for farmers to collect and map out specific data. Such products include NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) Maps. This is a graphical indicator that basically assesses if a specific area has live green vegetation.
The combination of all this aerial data collection and implementation methods forms a good information system for aerial application or crop dusting, resulting in better crop or agricultural yields. The field of Aerial Application will continue to expand and grow as more technological advances are made.