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ibstubro's avatar

Do you know what crop dusting is, and did you know that it's still widely used?

Asked by ibstubro (18765points) July 24th, 2015

Frankly, crop dusting brings to my mind romantic visions from the book Illusions by Richard Bach. I love watching our local pilot swoop and bank the bright yellow plane.

Then the reality of aerial application kicks in and pesticide over-spray and pesticide drift ruin the mood. How can you control the application of an aerosol from an airplane?

Possibly linked to the decline of both the honeybee and the Monarch butterfly.

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23 Answers

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Roundup is one of the things commonly sprayed as well. I can’t say I’m too worried. My grandparents lived in that environment for years. Grandad lived to 86 and grandma will likely be a centenarian.

Judi's avatar

They do it all the time in Central
CA along the I-5 coridor. Been hit driving the Central
Valley plenty of times.

JLeslie's avatar

Sure I know. I’ve seen crop dusters doing their thing in recent years. How do people think the pesticides are put on large areas if not by airplanes?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

We hired a crop duster once for an insect infestation. The guy was insane, but it worked.

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kritiper's avatar

Yup. Quite a bit of that goes on around here. Mono and bi. The bi-planes are a treat to see.

linguaphile's avatar

I can’t help holding my breath when a crop-duster flies by my car. North Colorado is full of them.

dammitjanetfromvegas's avatar

My memory of crop dusting is walking outside in the evening and seeing a carpet of glowing lightning bugs dying a slow death on the grass. I lived on a farm and crop dusters flew directly over our home. I did enjoy watching the acrobatics in the sky.

We also have a bright yellow crop duster in our area. The pilot is known to drink whiskey when he flies.

Adagio's avatar

It’s called (aerial) topdressing here in NZ.

Here2_4's avatar

Could they have much to do with no toads coming out in the evening anymore?

dammitjanetfromvegas's avatar

We have tons of toads here @Here2_4. Are you in an area affected by a drought?

Here2_4's avatar

No, @dammitjanetfromvegas , definitely no drought. Send me some eggs?
So, that doesn’t answer my question, whether toads are also affected by the crop dusters. Do you have crop dusters active in your area @dammitjanetfromvegas ? (I am sure glad I don’t have to spell that out.)

Apparently_Im_The_Grumpy_One's avatar

I used to be a “flagger” for a crop duster. To this day it remains my favorite job. I would sit in a mint field and read a book. When it was time for the plane to come by I would measure things off and wave the flag, then show the wind direction. When the pilot was empty of (the pellet thingies.. I wasn’t getting sprayed or anything) stuff, I’d go back to reading my book as I relaxed in the mint field. It was great.

So yes. I know what crop dusting is. Although, I initially assumed you meant some type of fart.

dammitjanetfromvegas's avatar

@Here24 Yes. They fly over my house.

ucme's avatar

Err, yes & yes.

Judi's avatar

@Istubro, they fly low over the freeway and mist hits the cars.
They also worked all around my kids school. Not sure if they’re still doing that. My youngest is 30.

ibstubro's avatar

That’s gross, @Judi. On the one hand I’m surprised they would allow it in California, on the other hand I know the size of the ag lobby.

Almost all pesticide is applied using mechanical sprayers, @JLeslie. The only reason they’re using crop dusters around here this year is because it’s been unseasonably rainy and the fields are too wet to drive in. Of course, that also means that even more run-off is going into the Mississippi.

Been a while since I’ve seen a biplane, @kritiper.

I don’t blame you, @linguaphile.

Yes, that’s the bad thing about over-spray, @dammitjanetfromvegas. Crop dusting has got to be a tedious job after a while!

“Topdressing” has sort of a regal ring to it, @Adagio.

Yes! @Here2_4
Frogs and toads eat insects, and when we spray pesticides on our lawns to control for insects that we find to be a nuisance, the amphibians suffer. Pollution of waterways can also affect them, as they lay their eggs in water.
Personally I’m seeing an uptick in the number of both toads and rabbits this year in my area.

Where do they have mint fields, @Apparently_Im_The_Grumpy_One? I don’t doubt you, but I never considered the idea. Getting paid to sit in a mint field sounds almost unlawful.

JLeslie's avatar

In Florida I think they spray a lot of the counties for mosquitoes with spray trucks. That isn’t for crops, it’s for us. They probably use spray trucks for crops too, It makes sense. I think it was when I was living in Memphis that some people were upset about the idea of spraying pesticided into the environment to kill mosquitoes, and since I am a mosquito magnet I was like, let them spray. Ironically, and very sadly, and unfortunately, Memphis was where I actually knew someone who died from West Nile from a mosquito bite. I think in some places they might use crop dusters for that too, I don’t know. I would guess crop dusters aren’t usually used in heavily populated places.

Here where I live we have standing water always, because of how our grading was designed in the community. One of the people who live here called the county about our problem and they came right away and dropped something into the wtare and it helped a lot. They also recommended bat houses, which I do not want! Not within a few hundred feet of my house. Some neighbors are ok woth the idea, and I told them to please not put the houses closesto my house.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Nationwide, there’s a big shortage of crop dusters, because it turns out that it’s a profession of old timers with the average age somewhere in the 70s. Incredibly, in this day and age, it’s one of the few jobs where a guy can easily earn in excess of a hundred grand a season. Yet the number of people suited to the job is apparently chronically short of the demand.

JLeslie's avatar

@stanleybmanly That’s very interesting. Sounds like a good job for a retired commercial or military pilot. They are grounded fairly young.

Apparently_Im_The_Grumpy_One's avatar

@ibstubro They certainly have them in northern california. I’m sure there are tons of other places too. It certainly did feel criminal to get paid to relax on a nice day with a book. But (shrug) the boss paid me, so who am I to argue?

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