Eye on Agriculture-Aerial Attack - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Eye on Agriculture-Aerial Attack

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You might notice more small planes in the air around North Dakota these days.

That's because it is the peak time for spraying wheat and barley crops in the state - and many fields get treated via the air.

Jim Olson has a look in this week's Eye on Agriculture.

The pilots are spending a lot of time in the cockpit right now.

(Brian Sturm, Pioneer AgViation) "We're very busy."

Here at Pioneer Agviation, a crop of six pilots and spray planes are in the air pretty much any time the weather cooperates, putting down chemicals that can be the difference between a good crop and a great crop.

(Brian Sturm, Pioneer AgViation) "We have airplanes going all over, trying to take care of the stuff because it's really wet for the farmers to be able to get in by themselves with their ground rigs."

Those wet fields mean many farmers can't get their own sprayers onto their fields. And, this is the time is needs to be done.

(Eric Eriksmoen, NDSU Research Agronomist) "Right now is a critical, critical point in time to prevent scab from infecting the wheat plant - and barley - and that window of opportunity is fairly narrow."

(Brian Sturm, Pioneer AgViation) "The ground sprayers will get stuck and it's really tough to get to all the wet spots and actually get the whole field when it's wet like this."

That's why this patch of airport property is a busy spot right now. With a half-dozen planes getting gassed up and loaded up with chemicals and heading back out, it's a noisy hub for some important work.

(Brian Sturm, Pioneer AgViation) "This time of year - end of June we get really busy and we'll be really busy right into September."

(Eric Eriksmoen, NDSU Research Agronomist) "Get on it right now because it can make or break your crop."

But how about the smoky haze that's been in the are recently? Sturm says it can be a hurdle for his pilots.

(Brian Sturm, Pioneer AgViation) "Visibilities have been reduced the last couple of days and that makes it a lot more difficult to see where you're going and where you need to go."

But they're getting through it - and buzzing fields all over the state. So if you're driving in rural North Dakota this week, be careful not to get distracted by the aerobatics displayed by these pilots. They're just getting a big job done at a decisive time in the growing season. With your Eye on Agriculture, Jim Olson, KX News.

 

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