Aerial application

Aerial Application

Aerial application

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Aerial application, commonly called crop dusting, involves spraying crops with fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides from an agricultural aircraft. The specific spreading of fertilizer is also known as aerial topdressing.

Agricultural aircraft are often purpose-built, though many have been converted from existing airframes. Helicopters are sometimes used, and some aircraft serve double duty as water bombers in areas prone to wildfires.


Aerial seed sowing 1906

The first known aerial application of agricultural materials was by John Chaytor, who in 1906 spread seed over a swamped valley floor in Wairoa, New Zealand, using a hot air balloon with mobile tethers. Aerial sowing of seed has continued on a small scale.

Crop dusting 1921

The first known use of a heavier-than-air machine occurred on 3 August 1921 when as the result of advocacy by Dr B.R. Coad, a United States Army Air Service Curtiss JN4 Jenny piloted by John MacReady was used to spread lead arsenate to kill catalpa sphinx caterpillars near Troy, Ohio in the United States. The first commercial operations were attempted in 1924, by Continental Dusters which subsequently became part of Delta Air Lines. Use of insecticide and fungicide for crop dusting slowly spread in the Americas and to a lesser extent other nations in the 1930s and 1940s.

Top dressing 1939-1946

Aerial topdressing, the spread of fertilizers such as superphosphate, was developed in New Zealand in the 1940s by members of the...
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