FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is Aerial Application?

  • Aerial Application uses airplanes and helicopters to seed, fertilize and treat crops with protective products to control weeds, insects and fungi. It is used on conventional and organic cropland. Aerial application is also used to treat forestland, range land and pastureland. In addition to boosting crop yields, aerial applicators use agricultural aircraft to sow soil-enhancing cover crop seeds, fight and prevent the spread of wildfires, clean up oil spills, and protect human health by controlling mosquitoes that carry West Nile and Zika virus, encephalitis and other harmful diseases. Originally known as crop dusters, today's pilots are referred to as "aerial applicators" or "agricultural pilots."

Why is it called aerial application instead of "crop dusting"? (*answer from the NAAA industry FAQ's website page)

  • Because "crop dusting" doesn't begin to describe the way the industry has developed since it began in 1921. For one thing, most applications today are in liquid form, so the word "dusting" doesn't say enough. For another, today's aerial applicators do much more than their predecessors did. The best term for them might be "Crop Doctors," because they must administer the proper treatment, at the correct dosage and time, to keep the plants healthy. In addition to controlling insects, weeds and diseases that threaten crops, they perform many other vital jobs. Aerial applicators "plant" seed from the air into flooded rice fields: spread rye grass seed in cornfields prior to harvest to prevent soil erosion; and they fertilize and add nutrients to soil for healthy crops and forest.

What are the advantages of aerial application? (*answer from the NAAA industry FAQ's website page)

  • Aerial application is often the only, or most economical, method for timely pesticide application. It permits large and often remove areas to be treated rapidly, far faster than any other form of application. Aerial application is often the safest, fastest and most efficient way to get the job done. Aircraft help in treating wet fields and spaying when crops canopies (ie. Orchards) are too thick for ground rigs. An airplane or helicopter can accomplish more in one hour than ground equipment can in one day. This means less fuel is used, less air pollution and no soil compaction. Aircraft are necessary to low or medium tillage farming systems, which can reduce soil erosion by as much as 90%. Aerial application provides food, fiber and bio-fuels for the world's growing population and protects our natural resources.

What type of aircraft do you fly?

  • Meyer Agri-Air uses agricultural airplanes that are called AirTractors. The company uses two different models called AT-502 and an AT-602. The AT-502 holds up to 475 gallons of liquid for spraying, while the AT-602 holds up 625 gallons. Meyer Agri-Air also has a Bell helicopter to help with the diverse agricultural landscapes.

How much can you get done in a day?

  • One of the many advantages that aerial application has is that it can treat a large area in a short amount time. With all the new technologies we have at our fingertips we can strategically plan out our fields to cover as much ground as we can. All of our aircraft can complete thousands of acres a day from any one of our staging locations. 

Are organic foods healthier and safer to eat than conventionally grown food?

  • No scientific study has ever shown organic foods to be more nutritious than conventional foods. Organic is a method of production, not a statement about food safety. All foods in the U.S. must meet the same high standards of safety regardless of classification. Conventional farming uses crop protection products approved by the EPA, and contrary to popular belief, organic farmers can and use pesticides too. Organic farmers may use approved "pesticides" and products to maintain their crops. Organic farmers also employ the services of aerial applicators when the conditions warrant it. A survey by the National Agricultural Aviation Association found that nearly one in four (23 percent) agricultural aviation businesses sprayed an organic field in 2015.​​

Eating conventional or organic produce doesn't have to be an either/or decision. Both options are perfectly safe, and both farming practices rely on pesticides and aerial application to protect their crops. The American Cancer Society acknowledges the important role that pesticides play in our food supply:

"Many kinds of pesticides are widely used in agriculture in the production of our food supply. People who eat more fruits and vegetables, which may contain trace amounts of pesticides, generally have lower cancer risks than people who eat fewer fruits and vegetables. Pesticides play a valuable role in sustaining our food supply. When properly controlled, the minimal risks pesticides pose are greatly overshadowed by the health benefits of a diverse diet rich in foods from plant sources."

The best line of defense is not to avoid certain kinds of produce, but to rinse thoroughly, just like your grandmother does. 


  • Aerial application is used on nearly all crops. The five most common crops aerial applicators treat are corn, wheat/barley, soybeans, alfalfa and pastures/range lands.

  • Aerial application is important whether a crop is grown organically or not because all crops need fertilizers and pests eradicated. Both farming methods use pesticides, just different types.

  • Aerial application is good for the environment because it enables farmers to produce more food and fiber on less land. The results in more land for carbon-sequestering forests, water-filtering wetlands and wildlife habitat.

  • During a disease or insect epidemic that can devastate the impacted crop, farmers rely on aerial application because it is the only way to treat large affected areas in a timely manner to prevent crop damage.

  • Aerial application plays a critical role in controlling mosquitoes, which carry health-threatening if not deadly diseases like Zika, West Nile virus and other diseases.

  • Aerial applicators fly state-of-the-art aircraft. Ag aircraft can cost as much as $1.5 million depending on hopper size (where the product goes), engine type and other add-ons.

  • Aerial applicators treat 71 million acres of cropland a year in the U.S., in addition to millions of acres of pasture and range land.

  • 20 percent of all crop protection products on commercial farms are applied by air. Nearly 100 percent of forest protection applications are aerially applied.

  • The U.S. EPA regulates all aspects of pesticide registration and use. Crop protection product registrations can take up to 10 years to complete and must undergo about 120 different types of human and environmental safety tests.

  • The U.S. EPA develops strict limits for pesticide residues that are 100 to 1,000 times lower than levels at which health impacts might occur. These tolerance levels are considered safe based on average daily food intake by adults and children.

  • Applying products by air supports low-till or no-till farming practices, and it allows access to a crop when the field is too wet for land-based equipment to safely enter.

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