Talk:Aerial application

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Help needed to expand article[edit]

Help expanding this article wanted. See below, From WW talk page,(skip to the end for the guts of it)...

aerial topdressing

I'm not sure why you've created this New Zealand-specific article when crop dusting has been around since April 2005 - a fact you must know, since you've edited it. It's the exact same topic; why didn't you redirect to crop dusting and expand the article there? The industry was created in the U.S. in 1921, not in New Zealand in 1946, so I'm unsure why you've chosen to focus on such a specific section of it. Finally while you've edited everything else about the topic to point to aerial topdressing, that article doesn't return those links - what about linking to crop dusting or agricultural aircraft? I think we should merge aerial topdressing into crop dusting and de-nationalize it a lot - if that won't work for you, maybe move it to "Aerial topdressing in New Zealand" and add a brief mention of NZ in the crop dusting article? -eric ✈ 01:18, 25 August 2005 (UTC)

Topdressing c.f. crop dusting

My understanding is crop dusting pre-dates top dresing, but the two are not the same thing. Topdressing concerns the delivery of fertilisers only, where as crop dusting initially referred to the use of insecticides and fungicides, but has since - in the U.S. at least - come to include the spread of fertilisers.

See discussion pages on both articles. WW.

Okay, I see where you're going with this. I've moved crop dusting to aerial application, the modern term used in the United States and Canada. Crop dusting is the colloquial term that most laymen use - if someone sees an ag plane, they always will call it a crop duster. I'm on and offline lately, and working with some other folks on a variety of articles, but I'd like to work with you on expanding aerial application by merging the basics of your aerial topdressing with some of the history at The NZ history should stay in its own article, with background and some choice bits merged into the main article - then we can reference that from the more generic entry. Sound good? I'd like to do this right. -eric ✈ 04:24, 26 August 2005 (UTC)

Aerial Application

The combination idea sounds good. As you say, we should do it right - I am afraid I was sticking to the narrow area I knew and may not be too much use outside it.

It would probably be a good idea to get a bit more background info about the development of crop dusting in the U.S. than just the web site; (if NZ can generate two books about the history of top dressing, I am sure there's something out there about crop dusting). There is also the question of what should be included; other geographic areas have strong independent history, (for example the Soviet block), and other forms of aerial application, (for example 1950s / 1960s anti-malarial mosquito spraying operations) and if we really wanted to be thorough, the reasons why some places didn't develop their own industry, (e.g. why wasn't there a market for European agricultural aircraft designs).

I can do some ground work on all of that, but nothing really professional for a couple of months, and there are probably other people better qualified, if you know any likely volunteers... Winstonwolfe

Retrieved from ""

In a fix[edit]

Can somebody who knows what they're doing (I don't) fix the redirect so "cropdusting" comes straight here? (It doesn't now.)

Also, the article says "The first known use of a heavier-than-air machine occurred on 3 August 1921". I've heard claims for as early as 1918 (but can't source them...). Can somebody check & confirm? Trekphiler (talk) 08:53, 24 November 2007 (UTC)

Aerial application vs. sprayers[edit]

I´m from Europe and I don´t see any aerial application since the rise of sprayers with working widths up to 120 feet that are able to work more precisely. What´s the situation in other parts of the world? (talk) 23:16, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

In NZ Aerial application predominates due to 1. large area to be covered and 2. hilly terrain, however the sprayers are available (and ironically last year I drove past a field in a river valley being used as a makeshift runway by a couple of Cresco turbo props dressing the surrounding hills... but there was a large wheeled sprayer for the relatively flat 'runway' itself. Winstonwolfe (talk) 07:45, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

"Aerial application of crop protection products is an essential tool in the American farmer's ability to produce the safest, highest quality, most abundant and lowest cost food supply in the world."[1] I also read a while back that satellite positioning is used for exact placement of helicopter delivered farming substances in response to computer image evaluated infrared crop images detailing location dependant crop health levels. WAS 4.250 (talk) 21:56, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Thank you for the link even though this is lobby information. This US Associaton provides also links to the sister organizations Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia and the Canadian Aerial Applicators Association. The question remains whether aerial application is still more efficient in those countries or whether it´s advantageous just due to the topology like in NZ. (talk) 14:52, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

Silent Spring[edit]

The article mentions Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, implying that the book has influenced curtailment of aerial application. I haven't researched the edit history of the article yet, but it should be noted that much of what Carson wrote in that book has now been shown to have been deliberately fabricated and falsified. It resulted in the withdrawal of DDT by political fiat from many markets, which, in turn, has result in the deaths of millions, perhaps even tens of millions of human beings from malaria and other tropical diseases. If this was added to the article by someone with a radical "environmentalist" ax to grind, it should be removed or rephrased in an NPOV manner. —QuicksilverT @ 22:10, 11 March 2010 (UTC)

I used to be involved in farming, and I have an idea of just how much regulation there is in Europe, both on the pesticides used and the application. "Silent Spring", as a trigger for political action, is significant, whatever the reality of the claims in that book. The politics and science clash in all sorts of ways. However, the growth of environmental concerns, and the rising costs of the chemicals applied, have hugely changed the use of pesticides. That does need a mention in any article such as this, but most of the detail would be better in some central article. (talk) 05:21, 21 October 2011 (UTC)

Aerial Application[edit]

I'm a new user and would not presume to edit an article. I have read the talk guidelines and would like to add my two cents in a positive manner to the talk section in order that someone disposed to edit this entry might have some information that might prove helpful on this topic. I am currently in my 25th season as an aerial applicator so of course it might be reasonably assumed that I would biased.

1. The first line: "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."

A fungicide is a pesticide. The subgroups of pesticides comprise insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, nematicides ect.

2. "Agricultural aircraft are often purpose-built, though many have been converted from existing airframes."

This was true at some point in the past however virtually all aircraft used for aerial application currently are purpose built.

3. In the Top dressing 1939-1946 section: "Crop dusting poisons enjoyed a boom after World War II until the environmental impact of widespread use became clear, particularly after the publishing of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring."

This seems like a fairly tendentious sentence for two reasons. The first is the use of the word "poisons". While it might be a fair term in the strict sense (anything with the cide suffix kills something) it is a loaded term. Of course the breakthrough with DDT was the extremely low mammalian toxicity. Paul Muller won the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1948 for the discovery of it's insecticidal properties. The replacement of the word "poisons" with the term "economic poisons" would be more neutral. The second reason is the implication that pesticide use was curtailed after the "environmental impact of widespread use became clear". This is not, insofar as I am aware, the case. The acres sprayed by DDT were certainly curtailed after it was banned but substitute pesticides moved to replace it.

4. In the Night aerial application section: "The aircraft — both fixed wing, autogyros and helicopters — were equipped with lights...". Apart from the grammatical problems with using the adjective "both" with three objects, I am not aware of an autogyro ever being used for aerial application. If one ever was it was uncommon enough to be an oddity.

Some aircraft were equipped with an elongated metal wing called a spreader, A spreader can not be fairly described as a wing in any sense.

"Very little pesticide dust was used day or night in comparison to spray, because of the difficulty in drift control." : Each product has a label which includes the allowable target crops and specifies the rate to be used. If you are off label you are breaking the law. You are not allowed to use "very little" just because the sun is down.

5. Environmental and human health hazards: The last paragraph in this piece seems to me to be fairly polemical. "A study found that most of the crops grown in Texas were treated with chemicals that show evidence of possible carcinogenicity, and pointed to aerial application of pesticides as a potential cause of cancer in children.[3]" The study cited is not dispositive of anything and makes no link. In fact the money quote from the abstract reads: Because causes of cancer in children continue to largely elude identification, leaving few avenues for developing prevention strategies, the possible role of agricultural pesticide exposure in the development of childhood cancers offers a tantalizing potential for preventing at least some of these cases. They are saying "We don't know what's happening, lets look at this." That is all well and good but I'm unsure how such a tenuous study is relevant to a Wikipedia entry on Aerial Application. They are looking at exposures and are unsure of any connection with cancer even if they are found. One of the foremost experts on the relative carcinogenic risks of pesticides is Dr. Bruce Ames of Berkeley, the inventor of the Ames Test for mutagenicity whose advice is "eat your vegetables". — Preceding unsigned comment added by AgPilot (talkcontribs) 18:11, 19 May 2013 (UTC)

rewrite-rename-merge of crop dusting, topdressing, aerial application topics[edit]

Currently crop dusting and crop duster are redirects to Aerial application, and Topdressing is a separate article. I suggest merging and rewriting to cover all three terms in one article, probably at "crop dusting".


  • 1 Lack of clarity over spreading of 1-fungicides (including pesticides, insecticides, nematocides), 2-fertilizer and/or 3-seed.

Current lede is vague about what is included out of 1, 2, 3 and what are the national differences in terminology. Current lede is:

Aerial application, or what was formerly referred to as crop dusting, involves spraying crops with crop protection products from an agricultural aircraft. Planting certain types of seed are also included in aerial application. The specific spreading of fertilizer is also known as aerial topdressing in some countries.

Concern: Currently Wikipedia may be coining/inventing a distinction that spreading fertilizer means it is called topdressing. Certainly nation-specific differences in terms used can be covered in one article. And certainly the New Zealand development of fertilizer and seed spreading (in the topdressing article now) is interesting history, but I think it should be integrated into just one article about spreading of all three, probably under "Crop dusting" name. And although "dusting" applied to dry dust being applied, the crop-dusting term now includes vapor dispersal as well.
  • 2 To go with "crop dusting" as the overall term does require checking that this is an accurate term in actual usage. What do dictionaries and industry-specific documents say?
    • Note: Dictionary definitions do not restrict crop dusting to be aerial-based or to be fungicide alone. "crop-dusting": noun 1. the spreading of fungicide, etc on crops in the form of dust, often from an aircraft"
  • 3 Which is the most common term, out of any accurate alternatives? "Crop dusting" is a very common term, and probably more common than aerial application (and more common than topdressing). E.g. [ crop dusting used in Unmanned aerial vehicle spraying ad. E.g. Talk page discussion above, that crop dusting in the U.S. has come to include spreading of 2-fertilizer and/or 3-seed. Google hit counts on the various terms? Or other evidence?
  • 4 Crop dusters were/are not only for aerial application. Historically a crop dusting machine used to be a ground-based machine that dispersed insecticide dust. E.g. usage in 1952 U.S. patent Dusting because the insecticide literally is a dust. The difficulty addressed was how to pulverize, disperse the dust. " Our crop-dusting machine is adapted to be mounted on a suitable chassis (not shown) in order that it may be moved through orchards or fields when crops are being grown", which I interpret to mean that the crop duster machine was expected to be mounted on a vehicle to go through (not over) the fields. Also the 1947 notable "crop duster" machine introduced by Yamabiko Corporation's predecessor, sounds like it is of the machine nature with or without a vehicle. The historical (and probably continuing) usage of crop duster machines on ground can be covered in a crop-dusting article.
  • 5 Relationships to other articles. Aerial spraying of water in fire-fighting is mentioned in current aerial application article, but I think should not be included in the topic definition. Much as now, it can/should be mentioned that some crop duster planes also serve in fire-fighting What other Wikipedia topics are closely related. Is there a general agricultural machinery article that covers all? Separate articles or sections on fertilizer dispersal? seeding / seed-spreading? insecticide delivery?
  • 6 Past participants here: Winstonwolfe, Trekphiler, AgPilot?
--doncram 19:57, 22 July 2015 (UTC)