Aerial Spraying - Our Fearless Flyers

Friday, 3rd May 2013 // Cotton Dictionary, Careers in Cotton, Cotton Research & Science

Aerial Agriculture isn't just about spraying our crops, it's also about protecting all of us from the dangers of bush-fires.

Aerial Spraying | Play video »

They are the Evel Knievels of the cotton industry. The adrenalin junkies who jump into aerial tractors and do one of the most daring jobs in agriculture.
Ag Pilots, Aerial Sprayers, Air Tractor Pilots, whatever you want to call them, their work is something completely unique!
They are Gun-pilots, some of the best and most talented people in the skies. They require incredible skill and make decisions in mere nano-seconds. 
They are the proof that the cotton industry isn't all about boring old plants and soil types, it is just as much about technology, talent and thrills. 

Aerial spraying is something that we utilise as we find spraying with a plane more effiecient and safe than using a ground rig. Planes seem to offer better coverage and help to prevent issues such as spray drift from occuring. As the plane flys low over the crop the wings create a downdraft as air is forced underneath them. This force pushes the spray down, deep into the crop.
Aerial spraying is particularly useful once the crop is reaching maturity, as the plants can be up to 6 feet tall making spraying with a tractor almost impossible.  

We have areas of land that border our farm that we dont use for anything. Instead these areas are utilised as 'buffer zones', which helps to ensure our spray is contained and doesn't effect neighbouring properties.
We also run on a 'closed system' which means that when it rains or we irrigate all the watter runoff drains into our channels and is then stored in our dams and recycled on farm. We do this to be sure that runoff, that might possibly be contaminated by chemicals that we use here, never leaves the farm which in turn ensures the protection of our water ways and nature reserves. 

Aerial Sprayers are large aeroplanes (bigger than you think!)  that use a tank filled with a mix of water and whichever fertiliser, insecticide etc that is being applied to the crop. The mix is then pumped out through spray nozzles like these... That create a heavy mist. 

(Photo courtesy of

These very same planes and pilots double as some of our nations greatest heroes.
You see, they don't just spray crops, they are also on call throughout Australia every day as 'water bombers'. At any moment if a bushfire gets out of control, these pilots will drop everything to become the key tool in protecting us, our homes and businesses and they see it all as just another part of their 'daily drill'. 

So, if you were thinking about a career in ag but wanted something with a bit of a rush then maybe Aerial Agriculture is the place for you! 

Don't forget to click on the video! smile