I had my first opportunity to learn about Hemisphere GPS during the National Agricultural Aviation Association convention when I spoke with Greg Guyette, General Manager, Air & Imagery Business. Greg says that their systems are “moving to data management, data movement, real time systems.” It’s becoming all about being able to immediately move a file or access a file to be more efficient as an aerial applicator or farmer. He mentions their purchase of Ag Junction which he says have had the best record of handling data in the past ten years.
The product Greg talked with aerial applicators the most about was their new Satloc G4 aerial guidance system.
The Satloc G4™ is the most complete and advanced aerial guidance system for aerial applicators. Satloc G4 is built with the top-of-the-line processing power of Intel® Dual-Core™ i7 processor and includes Windows® 7 64-bit operating system.
The Satloc G4 features a new 9-inch, 16:9 ratio touchscreen capable of providing faster video graphics as well as the latest in touchscreen technology. Use multi-touch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom, rotate and press and drag to access information. Experience improved connection speeds for downloading job and shape files and prescription maps. The Satloc G4 features video capabilities including Skype™ and Ethernet connectivity for cell-based modems.
During the National Agricultural Aviation Association convention I met aerial applicator Kyle Scott, Scott Aviation (right). Kyle sponsored Justin Mook, 2012 NAAA/BASF Agricultural Aviation Scholarship recipient, pictured on left. Kyle is Treasurer of the NAAA and has been in the aerial application business for over twenty years. He’s been a member since the beginning of his career in the industry.
I asked Kyle why he sponsored Justin for the scholarship. Justin used to be a customer of his who always wanted to be a pilot. Kyle says that when Justin’s farm dried up due to drought he talked with Kyle about getting into the business and has been working on the ground for Kyle since then. Kyle says the scholarship is very important as a way to attract young people to get into the aerial application business. There is a significant investment in getting your license and going through the educational process and the scholarship helps make that possible.
The BASF team was looking good this week at the National Agricultural Aviation Association Convention. Here they are just as the trade show started.
During the show I visited with a couple of the representatives on hand starting with our good friend Dr. Gary Fellows, Technical Marketing Manager. Gary presented the NAAA/BASF Scholarship awards and was available to talk about the products that BASF has that are well suited for aerial application. This includes their Headline fungicide of course. We also talked about what type of research BASF is doing for aerial application and BASF’s support of the NAAA Operation S.A.F.E. fly-ins.
Up next is Daryl Theis, Product Manager. We talked about BASF’s commitment to the aerial application industry that includes scholarships, product r&d and innovative products and relationships with companies like AgSync. More on that in an upcoming post.
The incoming President of the National Agricultural Aviation Association, Dana Ness, Ag-Air Inc., Chester, MT, talked with me about membership. He’s pretty excited to be taking on the job of President at the first of the year. When it comes to membership in the organization he says “Membership is my voice in Washington.” That’s very important when there are regulatory challenges to the industry as we see right now.
Personally, Dana says that he was raised in the agriculture industry and has always been a member. He says NAAA was the only voice out there and has always been there for him. Besides legislative representation Dana says that NAAA also provides important training via the Professional Aerial Applicators’ Support System (PAASS) program and opportunities for members to make sure their equipment is in top shape via Operation S.A.F.E. Fly-Ins. He sees a bright future for aspiring ag aviators who would like become professionals and highly encourages them to contact the organization and perhaps apply for one of the NAAA/BASF scholarships.
The 2012 President of the National Agricultural Aviation Association is Mark Hartz. Mark is a 30 year ag pilot from Arkansas. He has a two plane operation with a partner.
Mark is very happy with the convention, attendance and the city of Savannah for being great hosts for the NAAA. When it comes to industry challenges Mark says they are always there but right now they have a major one hanging over their heads in the NPDES permits. In my interview with Mark you’ll hear him express his optimism for the future of ag aviation and offer some encouraging words to future ag aviators.
Dealing with EPA’s NPDES and state pesticide general permits. Sounds daunting doesn’t it? Well it is for agricultural aviators. It is government regulation that duplicates already existing regulation and is something that the NAAA has been working on in Washington, DC all year and it looks like will have to continue to do so.
To provide NAAA members with an overview and update, Dr. John Thorne, Bergeson & Campbell, PC, spoke on the subject this morning at the NAAA convention. His job was to explain the regulations and help attendees protect themselves to the fullest extent possible. He offered guidance on what ag aviators need to do to stay in compliance and avoid subjecting themselves to enforcement actions. If you’d like to know more about this issue then give his remarks a listen.
The current President of the Women of the National Agricultural Aviation Association is Katy Diehl. We visited here in Savannah at the NAAA convention. Kathy is from Garden City, KS and is married to an agricultural aviator and is personally a banker.
The Women of the National Agricultural Aviation Association (WNAAA) is a companion organization to the NAAA. Members are women involved in aerial application — spouses, partners and allied industry members. The main objective of the WNAAA is to promote the positive image of the aerial application industry.
Kathy says the WNAAA is mostly involved with education. That includes the general public and attending conventions like the FFA and Commodity Classic to encourage young people to consider a career in ag aviation.
The annual membership meeting was the start of today’s National Agricultural Aviation Association convention. The meeting started out with a comprehensive report from Andrew Moore, Executive Director. You can listen to some of the points he brought up here from the interview we did yesterday.
One of the things in his report that caught my ear was a member request from last year to engage the media more. You could tell that this is a very sensitive subject. I understand why NAAA would be hesitant to reach out to the media when you consider the antagonistic treatment the industry has received by the media in general. However, thinking you can just shut the door and hope nothing bad happens never works. I encourage NAAA to become active with social media. Encouraging your members to do this is fine but you need to set the example! How about joining in with efforts like USFRA or others in which you can contribute and extend the use of your funds?
I have really enjoyed my interaction with the staff of the NAAA. With this quality of professionals I think the organization is in good hands to trust them to invite more ag media to attend the convention and to reach out to non-farm media to help educate them and open the door to transparency. What do you think?
Here’s Andrew Moore (left), Executive Director, National Agricultural Aviation Association and the opening breakfast keynote speaker Story Musgrave. Story’s story was filled with great anecdotes from his career as an astronaut with agricultural roots. He also had a slide show filled with unbelievable photos from space and different periods of his career.
I spoke with Andrew after watching today’s Fire Boss Water Drop demonstration to get an overview of the convention. Andrew says that the NAAA and the convention grow bigger each year. Attendance is up and so is membership. This year’s program features lots of educational opportunities as well as a big trade show which kicks off tomorrow. But it’s not all work. There continues to be plenty of time to network with others in the industry and just plain relax.
One of the two 2012 BASF/NAAA Scholarships was awarded to Kippy Foltyn of Lansford, ND. Foltyn attended Ag Flight Pilot Training LLC in Bainbridge, Georgia, and plans to continue his education later this year with plans to become an aerial applicator.
While visiting with him after this morning’s presentation Kippy says he’s been involved with the ag industry for about four years. He wanted to get into agricultural aviation while watching planes as a kid. He says BASF is doing a great job of helping advance the industry.
This morning BASF and the National Agricultural Aviation Association announced their 2012 scholarship awards. One of those receiving an award is Justin Mook of Wiggins, CO. Mook is currently enrolled in Enrich’s Helicopters Flight School in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he is pursuing his commercial pilot’s license. He already has his private license and hopes to begin his agricultural pilot training after completing his current program this winter.
I visited with Justin right after this morning’s breakfast session. He’s been in production agriculture for all of his career so far. He says he’s had a passion for agricultural aviation since he was a kid. The scholarship was a long shot he thought but as he says, “You never know.” Well now we know!
When the NAAA convention was held in Savannah, GA two years ago this was a big attraction. It’s a Fire Boss water drop.
In between ocean going tankers coming in the Savannah River to dock and unload we got treated again today to a Fire Boss AT-802F Air Tanker demonstration. The pilot performed multiple passes that included filling pontoons with water and then dropping the water back into the river. It makes for quite a show as you’ll see from the video.
During the opening breakfast of the 2012 National Agricultural Aviation Association two budding pilots got a step closer to soaring over the fields of America thanks to a pair of scholarships from BASF and NAAA. Here’s Justin Mook of Wiggins, CO and Kippy Foltyn of Lansford, ND, with their awards presented by BASF’s Dr. Gary Fellows and NAAA’s President, Mark Hartz. Justin was awarded a $5,000 scholarship and Kippy, $2,500.
“America needs more qualified aerial applicators,” said Gary Fellows, Ph.D., BASF Plant Health Technical Services Manager and member of the National Agricultural Aviation Research & Education Foundation (NAAREF) Professional Aerial Applicators’ Support System, (PAASS) Program Development Committee. “With these scholarships, we’re able to provide people like Justin and Kippy with the opportunity to receive the education they need to enter the field.”
Mook is currently enrolled in Enrich’s Helicopters Flight School in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he is pursuing his commercial pilot’s license. He already has his private license and hopes to begin his agricultural pilot training after completing his current program this winter.
Foltyn attended Ag Flight Pilot Training LLC in Bainbridge, Georgia, and plans to continue his education later this year with plans to become an aerial applicator.
“BASF has been a major supporter of NAAA over the years, and we appreciate their continued generosity,” NAAA Executive Director Andrew Moore said. “The grant that allowed us to establish the Agricultural Aviation Scholarship has helped ensure that the pipeline remains well stocked with competent and capable professional ag pilots.”
While I’m here this week Cindy is in Chicago at the American Seed Trade Association CSS 2012. And Jamie Johansen is on her way to Louisville, KY for the Alltech Global 500. It’s a busy week for the ZimmComm team. So expect to see a lot of stories and interviews this week from the agriblogging highway.
BASF and the National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA) are teaming up again for another year of Operation S.A.F.E. (Self-regulating Application and Flight Efficiency).
Through this partnership, BASF provides financial support for participating aerial applicators through sponsorship of fly-ins throughout the country. NAAA members also qualify for application equipment rebates as part of Operation S.A.F.E., which provides aerial applicators an opportunity to increase equipment performance, applicator knowledge and help ensure safety.
“We’ve had more than 1,250 aerial applicators participate in nearly 150 fly-ins throughout the country during the three years our Operation S.A.F.E. incentive program has been in effect,” said Tony Goede, Aerial Manager, BASF. “BASF continues this partnership with NAAA to help the aerial application industry continue to be safe, efficient and effective.”
Any operator or pilot can participate in an Operation S.A.F.E. fly-in clinic. Those who are NAAA members can take advantage of the BASF Equipment and NAAA Membership Rebate Program. NAAA member participants wishing to collect the rebate are required to partake in a calibration clinic, and subsequently complete the BASF and NAAA Operation S.A.F.E. Incentive Program application form. After completing these steps, the operator or pilot can be reimbursed for some of their 2012 membership dues or submit receipts to receive rebates for nozzles and/or tips purchased for their aircraft.
“BASF is steadfast in its commitment to help grow the ag aviation industry, as demonstrated by their generous support of NAAA once again,” said Andrew Moore, Executive Director of NAAA. “We’re grateful for their partnership and for making these incentives available to encourage the most effective, targeted application and increased safety.”
More information about Operation S.A.F.E., including dates of fly-ins as they are scheduled, is available on the NAAA website. Visit BASF’s plant-health-pilots.com for a variety of resources BASF provides aerial applicators, including an “Ask the Expert” section for your toughest aerial application questions.
At the National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA) convention last week I had the opportunity to chat with Chris Wharam, a BASF tech services rep with in North Dakota, about how they help farmers and custom applicators in his state.
Chris was already pretty familiar with the crop protection business before he took the job with BASF, since his family owns Valley Sprayers in Park River, ND. Chris also has a master’s degree in plant pathology from North Dakota State University. “In my role with BASF, I get the opportunity to work with many people all throughout agriculture – including growers, retailers, distributors, university folks, consultants,” he said.
One of the things that BASF does to help aerial applicators is sponsor Operation S.A.F.E. (Self-Regulating Application and Flight Efficiency) fly-ins around the country. “It’s an opportunity for applicators to get their equipment calibrated and do pattern tests,” Chris said. “A little over 1200 planes have gone through these SAFE fly-ins, 150 different locations all over the United States.”
Many aerial applicators, like Valley Sprayers, also do custom ground applications for their clients, which Chris says is very important for cereal crop growers in his part of the country. “We often will make an application of Headline in the tank with our herbicide applications in that 3-5 leaf stage, and growers are consistently capturing a 4-6 bushel yield bump with that application,” he explained. “As the season progresses, we have an opportunity to apply fungicide again at the flag leaf time and our products at that time would be TwinLine® or Headline.” Finally, at flowering time, Chris says they have the head scab product called Caramba®, “again growers are consistently capturing anywhere from a 5-10 bushel yield advantage and reducing the toxins associated with scab infections.”
Among the many ways BASF supports NAAA is by sponsoring the convention kick off breakfast, which always features a speaker with an aviation theme. This year, that speaker was Brian Shul, pilot and author of the coffee table book Sled Driver – Flying the World’s Fastest Jet, which is a compilation of the best photos that he took over many years flying the SR-71 Blackbird. It would make a great Christmas gift for anyone on your list who appreciates military aircraft and/or breathtaking photography! You can order yours at SledDriver.com.
I interviewed Brian at the NAAA about the plane, the book, how he got such great shots, and his continuing love of photography – listen to that conversation in this week’s ZimmCast: Pilot and Author Brian Shul
Those of you who visited with BASF at the 2011 Commodity Classic may have gotten a chance to see corporate magician Jon Petz perform there. BASF liked him so much that they brought him to NAAA to entertain the aerial applicator folks. Jon, pictured here in the middle with some of the BASF crew, is a fun and really interesting guy. Not only is his magic amazing, it’s equally impressive how he works in the BASF message at the same time. Entertaining and educating!
Gary participated in a session with a few other crop protection product companies to provide an update on BASF herbicides and fungicides. First of all, Gary talked about the anticipated registration next year of Priaxor for soybeans. “It gives a brand new mix of fungicides for both controlling existing diseases and providing preventative disease control,” Gary says. “It raises the bar with what Headline is today as the standard in the soybean market, with more consistency, better yield and a higher return on investment for the grower.”
Gary says a new liquid formulation of Facet® herbicide has benefits for rice producers. “We’ve been selling Facet as a dry formulation for years,” he explained. “We’re excited to sell a true liquid because of the ease of handling and we also get better grass and broadleaf activity with it.”
In addition, Gary updated the ag aviators on two new label expansions from BASF, for Prowl® herbicide on pasture grasses and for Headline® fungicide in alfalfa.
When I interviewed Gary, he also talked about the importance of ag aviators to agriculture and the overall goal of feeding a growing population. Listen to or download my interview with Gary from NAAA here: Dr. Gary Fellows with BASF
Like all of agriculture, aerial applicators are facing potentially onerous regulations that could ground them if they are allowed to continue.
The biggest issue they are dealing with right now is the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program, which National Agricultural Aviation Association executive director Andrew Moore told me just went into effect on Halloween. “It’s kind of a scary regulation,” said Andrew of the regulation which impacts pesticide application near water. “The problem is that it’s duplicative of everything that already exists to protect the environment in regard to pesticide regulation.”
Andrew says the NPDES would require a great deal of paper work on the part of applicators. “FIFRA already regulates the safety of pesticides to water, so this is a completely unnecessary burdensome rule.” In addition, Andrew says they are very considered about lawsuits under the new regulation.
So, NPDES was a big topic at the NAAA convention in Las Vegas this week, where workshops were held and applicators were educated about the current status of the federal rule and where it stands at the state level. Andrew says they are also urging aerial applicators – and really anyone in the agriculture industry – to contact their senators about the issue. “Because we’ve been successful in passing legislation that would exempt pesticide applications over water for FIFRA approved pesticides,” said Andrew. The measure has been passed by the House and has gone through the Senate Agriculture Committee. “We believe we have the votes in the Senate but it’s not being brought to the floor for a vote,” he said.