Pontiac Flying Service
Growers can be confident that their fields will be sprayed accurately and on time, providing the proven disease control and Plant Health benefits of Headline® fungicide with the best opportunity for maximum yields, thanks to an innovative new process developed by Pontiac Flying Service of Pontiac, Illinois, and Rockford Map Publishers of Rockford, Illinois, with support from BASF.
The new system, which helps automate scheduling and applications for the agricultural aviation industry, comes at exactly the right time. Demand for aerial spray services has doubled and tripled over the past two years as growers respond to field trials that demonstrate the exceptional disease control and yield benefits of Headline. The new system improves efficiency, accuracy and safety, all while increasing the ability of producers to meet growing interest in grains with higher yields.
Specifically, what's driving the need for this system is the results of more than 1,150 on-farm trials conducted in locations across the country. Headline application resulted in average yield increases of 12-16 bu/A in corn, while soybeans responded with an average of 4-8 bu/A more.
The conventional system for scheduling and planning applications involves tedious cross-referencing of work orders and land-ownership maps. The new system uses a computer-based mapping process and global positioning systems (GPS) to give aerial applicators accurate locations and the boundaries of fields along with pertinent information such as nearby buildings and power lines.
By precisely identifying field boundaries, the new BASF/Rockford process gives growers confidence that Headline has been accurately sprayed on the correct field. And with the precise location of hazards marked, the system provides greater safety for the applicator.
Piloting welcomed change
The development of the process began as orders for Headline ramped up in 2007. Pontiac Flying Service sought to create a more efficient way for pilots to find the fields scheduled to be treated. The agricultural aviation services approached Rockford Map Publishers, a 63-year-old company that produces plat books, with an idea. (Plat books consist of land ownership maps and indexes of owners for property over five acres in size.)
Rockford had recently digitized many of its maps to use in the computer-based process and Pontiac Flying Service proposed combining this information with GPS and a back-end database to create a more streamlined system. BASF, an ongoing supporter of the agricultural aviation industry, foresaw the value of this system and added its backing.
Scott Petersen, owner of Pontiac Flying Service of Pontiac, Illinois, was the first aerial applicator in Illinois to use this new system. "We were looking for a more efficient way to get our airplanes to the right field," said Petersen. "With our new mapping process, we can load a day's work on a GPS data card and fly directly to the right field with no questions asked. This system eliminates a lot of wasted time and fuel. We can treat 30 percent more acres using this system than we could with the conventional paper map system."
The need for a more efficient way to handle orders isn't likely to abate in 2008. Producers are responding to high grain prices by maximizing production and agricultural-chemical retailers expect to require the services of aerial applicators even more this year.
New technology takes flight
The computer-based process worked well in its first year and will see extensive use across Illinois and Wisconsin in 2008.
"This is a very simple system," said Mike Leitz, crop consultant with Crop Production Services in Sheldon, Illinois "The guys like it. I had actually been looking for software to streamline the application scheduling process but I haven't found anything like this available."
What the solution delivers:
- Digitizes the aerial application ordering process
- Establishes precise work orders in a standard process
- Identifies landforms, buildings and roads during planning (not from the cockpit)
- Simplifies coordination of work orders for retailers and applicators
- Creates easy orientation when pilots view maps for applications
As the system was demonstrated at meetings earlier this year, retailers appreciated the efficiency and improved safety of the new system. Crop consultants predict growers will have even more confidence that Headline was accurately applied to their crops.
"This new scheduling format eliminates a lot of the margin for error that we had under the old system of marking and faxing paper maps. This system actually shows the layout of each field and allows us to make notes. I feel like this system will make our jobs easier in the heat of battle this summer," said Nick Saathoff, a sales agronomist at the farm supply co-op in St. George, Illinois "Headline applications have created a new business for us. At the same time, by supporting this project BASF has shown the company is dedicated to making our life easier. This system should also increase our ability to serve our customers."
Ready for new applications
With positive feedback from retailers, BASF sponsored a series of training sessions across Illinois and Wisconsin this winter to help retailers' employees and aerial applicators become familiar with the process. Pilot David Kurtz of Benoit Aerial Spraying of Kankakee, Illinois, recently attended one of the training sessions sponsored by BASF.
"This new system is fantastic. Our people in the office can organize our aerial applications and make the pilots much more efficient," said Kurtz. "By eliminating the faxed maps, we'll use less paper and the maps will be easier for the pilots to read."
Eric Galdi of Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, was one of the first precision ag specialists to work with the Rockford/BASF process. "There are a lot of neat features on this system. It will be easy to update and growers will appreciate the fact that we now have clear maps with well-marked field boundaries," said Galdi.
The new process will initially be used by agronomists in his area to schedule Headline applications this summer and Galdi is looking forward to using the process with other field applications. The precision ag specialist appreciated the support of BASF on the project. "With this system, we'll know where Headline was applied and we can identify our Headline check plots," said Galdi. "Later, we can use this digital system for other applications such as soil sampling, hybrid selection, and crop planning."
BASF is proud of this initiative and committed to supporting U.S. aerial applicators with solutions that enhance the efficacy and safety of aerial applications.
"We're looking forward to seeing this system improve the effectiveness of aerial applicators and ultimately benefit growers with more efficient and accurate applications of Headline. Our support of aerial applicators and ag-chem retailers is yet another example of how BASF continues their efforts to be the trusted advisor for agricultural producers," said James Gaffney, BASF Market Manager.
BASF also supports the agricultural aviation industry through educational programs, including top-tier sponsorship of the PAASS program, and industry events, including diamond sponsorship of the NAAA Convention and Exposition over the past three years. BASF is also recognized for its commitment to working with the industry to improve practices, establish new market opportunities and its proactive sharing of technical information with aerial applicators.
For more information about Headline
fungicide and other BASF crop protection products, visit www.agproducts.basf.com
Always read and follow label directions.
Headline is a registered trademark of BASF.
©2008 BASF Corporation. All Rights Reserved. APN 08-01-088-0010