Crop Dusting Provides Service to Area

Published 12:03 pm Tuesday, January 21, 2014

 Davis Hrupsa poses for a picture outside a Beech Bonza aircraft

Davis Hrupsa poses for a picture outside a Beech Bonza aircraft

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.

Online reports describe how agricultural aircraft are highly specialized, purpose-built aircraft. Today’s agricultural aircraft are often powered by a turbine engine and can carry  crop protection products. Helicopters are sometimes used, and some aircraft serve double duty as water bombers in areas prone to wildfires.

“Aerial application is on the upswing. Hours flown by crop-dusters rose 29 percent  from 2003 through 2007, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. While most aircraft makers are in a slump, leading aerial-application manufacturer Air Tractor Inc., in Olney, Texas, is cranking out more planes than it did last year,” reads a 2009 report in the Wall Street Journal.

David Hrupsa started flying ag planes in 1986 in Harrington, Delaware where he raised grain crops and sweet corn.

Hrupsa had a crop dusting company around that time named First State Aerial Applicators Inc. In 1995 he sold First State Aerial Applicators to another company.

Hrupsa explained some of the changes in his life. “In 1994, I started aerial application in N.C., north of the Albemarle Sound from Elizabeth City all the way to Edenton.1999, we started spraying south of the sound in Washington County. I met another operator and they took over the North Carolina work that was north of the sound,” he said.

In 2004, the name of Hrupsa’s company was changed to Atlantic Ag Aviation Inc.

“Our company also has an aerial application business in IL.
We’ve been spraying in the mid-west since 2007.There are three aircraft in our company. All of them are turbine AT502’s. They hold 500 gallons of product,” said Hrupsa.

One of the biggest improvements over the years for crops dusting has been the use of GPS guidance systems.

To be an aerial applicator, you have to hold a commercial pilot’s license and be trained in all aspects of safe pesticide use. Certification from the FAA called a 137 certificate is needed to spray and dispense product. Ag flying requires skills that take many hours of practice and usually years of experience. Pilots have to attend classes once a year to stay current with all the new regulations.

“Aerial application will always be needed for the growing of ag products. It is the fastest, most economical way to apply plant protection product,” Hrupsa said.