NAAA Submits Comments to EPA on Agency’s Second Proposed, Revised NPDES PGP
NAAA has submitted comments on the EPA’s proposed reissuance of a five-year National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Pesticide General Permit (PGP) for Point Source Discharges. This is the second five-year reissuance of the EPA’s NPDES-PGP. The first was issued in 2016, five years after the initial PGP went into effect in 2011.
NAAA had commented on the original permit and now on all reissuances. In fact, in the opening paragraphs of NAAA’s comments sent on Monday, it stated its historical position was that PGPs should not be legally required for applications of pesticides made in a manner fully consistent with EPA-approved label restrictions and the scientific parameters established for the safe use of pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), and other existing state pesticide authorities’ requirements because these regulations already test for water safety. NAAA continued that it agreed with many Congressional lawmakers; pest-control officials in federal, state, county and municipal governments; and commercial and private interests that PGPs are duplicative, unwarranted burdens that do nothing to further environmental protection and that its comments to the permit reissuance were in no way an endorsement of the 2009 6th Circuit decision (National Cotton Council v. EPA) that overturned the EPA’s 2006 regulation clarifying NPDES permits were not required for such pesticide uses.
NAAA’s also commented that in the EPA’s 2020 proposed and revised PGP, that the definition of “waters of the U.S. (WOTUS),” which influences the parameters of an NPDES PGP requirement, remains controversial and if any changes were to be made from the current Trump Administration WOTUS rule currently in effect, a comment period reopening the PGP permit should take place before any new interpretation of the WOTUS should occur. NAAA’s comments stated:
Under the Trump administration in 2020 the EPA announced that “EPA and the Army are providing much needed regulatory certainty and predictability for American farmers.” Just recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit reversed a state of Colorado injunction of the Trump administration’s WOTUS rule, siding with a coalition of trade groups including the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and National Pork Producers Council.NAAA also expressed concerns to the EPA that the practice of holding all operators jointly and severally liable for violations that occur in connection with permitted activities, including any action or inaction of others beyond their control, is an unfair punishment in the permit that needs correction. NAAA notes that this provision has caused aerial applicators to decline contracts for mosquito control services due to fear of citizen suits stemming from the EPA’s language going all the way back to the 2011 PGP that was carried forward in the final 2016 PGP and will continue if the EPA doesn’t correct the situation in its 2020 permit.
The ruling indicates that the new rule is effective law in Colorado and all 50 states and that all must abide by the water definitions laid out with the Trump rewrite of the Waters of the U.S. rule. The new Biden Administration, however, has already announced that many policies and regulations issued by EPA over the past four years will be subject to “review.” If new EPA initiatives go back to some previous Clean Water Act (CWA) definitions and requirements, possible changes could lead to interpretations of PGP requirements to restrict pesticide applications into, over, or near any ditch, dry wash, wetland, or other waterbody. Potential permittees could be left to guess which applications would require a permit. This lack of clarity, and uncertainty if EPA continues to consider continually changing definitions, could make compliance more difficult and would likely lead to further challenges to EPA’s definitional scheme.
Should EPA change the current WOTUS framework, the agency should give additional PGP notice and comment opportunity if changes come into effect. If changes are made effective during the 2021 PGP period, EPA should delay changes until the next five-year cycle or allow a new notice and comment period on any relevant changes to the PGP.
NAAA raised several other points in its comments, including that additional water quality-based effluent limitations (WQBELs) would create undue burdens on operators; that Notice of Intent and annual reports submitted by some operators during the course of the past two permits should be sufficient unless there is evidence the two permits had not sufficiently protected water quality; and that the agency should resolve pending Endangered Species Act (ESA) issues before PGP comment period closure. The EPA’s attempt to integrate its pesticide assessments compliant with FIFRA and ESA provisions remains controversial and subject to continual litigation. If the outcome of litigation or program decisions requires changes to PGP requirements, the EPA should incorporate any proposed changes only after providing an additional opportunity for notice and comment by the public.
Click here to read NAAA’s comments to the EPA in their entirety. NAAA will keep the industry updated about the EPA’s PGP reauthorization process as it moves forward in 2021.
Additional $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Law Includes Potential Aide for General Aviation Airports, Ag Aviation Businesses and Associations
President Biden signed a new $1.9 trillion stimulus package titled The American Rescue Plan Act on March 11. The bill provides $1,400 direct payments to individuals making up to $75,000 annually, $350 billion in aid to state and local governments and $14 billion for vaccine distribution, among other things.
Of particular note to ag aviators, the new law includes $14 billion for the Payroll Support Program (PSP) to air carriers, including commercial general aviation operators. It also provides $8 billion in support to airports, $100 million of which is specified for non-primary airports. The law also provides $15 billion for additional Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) funding for small businesses and provisions to allow some aviation employers to receive up to 50% of the cost of base compensation and benefits for the 25% of its employees most susceptible to a furlough or layoff, not including senior executives.
In addition, the new law provides an additional $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). It also expands PPP eligibility to include some not-for-profit associations. This stimulus package did not extend the PPP’s current application period, which is scheduled to close March 31. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering first draw and second draw PPP loans until March 31. The loan may be used for payroll costs, including benefits, and to pay interest on mortgages, rent and utilities. Loans will be fully forgiven if employees are kept on the payroll.
If you need more information about the PPP loan process, you should contact your SBA lender. If you are unsure of who your SBA lender is, check the SBA website. More information from the SBA may be found here. Although the application period was not extended in the latest stimulus package, the new law made it possible for more not-for-profits to be eligible for the PPP by creating a new category called “additional covered nonprofit entity.” Under this new category, those not-for-profits listed in Sec. 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code other than 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4), 501(c)(6) or 501(c)(19) organizations can now qualify for PPP under certain conditions:
- The organization must not receive more than 15% of receipts from lobbying activities.
- The lobbying activities must not comprise more than 15% of total organization activities.
- The organization’s cost of lobbying activities must not exceed $1 million during the most recent tax year that ended prior to Feb. 15, 2020.
- Finally, the organization must not employ more than 300 employees.
NAAA will continue to provide updates, as needed, on the status of these programs and their availability to the agricultural aviation industry.
NAAA Continues to Support Aerial Applications of Glyphosate by Commenting on Endangered Species Assessment
Last week NAAA submitted comments to the EPA on the biological evaluation (BE) for the reregistration of glyphosate. The EPA is required by FIFRA to review the registrations for all crop protection products every 15 years. As part of the reregistration process, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) requires the EPA to work with the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to evaluate the potential risks each pesticide represents to threatened and endangered species and their designated habitat. To accomplish this mandate, the EPA conducts a biological evaluation for each pesticide being evaluated during reregistration.
The EPA used the Tier 1 model in AgDRIFT to estimate the drift from aerial applications for the biological evaluation, as they have every other endangered species evaluation, human health risk assessment, and ecological risk assessment. NAAA has commented to the EPA numerous times on why the Tier 1 model is not appropriate to use for modeling the potential drift from modern aerial applications. For our glyphosate BE comments, NAAA referred the EPA to a letter submitted to the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs in June of 2020 for a detailed analysis of all the inaccuracies of the Tier 1 model and how to use the Tier 3 AgDRIFT model to improve the accuracy of aerial drift estimates. NAAA is making headway with the agency on this issue and has a meeting scheduled later this month to continue to move the process along towards more standard use of the Tier 3 layer of the AgDRIFT model.
NAAA was also concerned the fine-medium droplet size was used for the subsequent modeling in the BE that estimates the potential exposure and harm to endangered species. The fine-medium droplet size was assumed to be used on all aerial applications of glyphosate for both ag and non-ag uses in these models, despite the fact the interim decision for glyphosate specified the use of the medium or coarser droplet size. The exception was if glyphosate is tank mixed with a fungicide or insecticide that requires a fine droplet size. NAAA pointed out that most aerial herbicide applications do not involve a fungicide or insecticide tank mix partner, and that when they do occur, many of the products also require a medium or coarser droplet size. Therefore, NAAA pointed out that is not appropriate to use the fine-medium droplet size for these other BE models either. NAAA also offered that tank mixes of glyphosate should all be labeled for medium or coarser droplets for aerial use to alleviate any remaining risk concerns that the agency may have.
Next in the queue for NAAA to comment on are ecological and human health risk assessments for a few fungicides commonly applied via aerial application, a proposed interim decision for propargite that is expected to contain deeply flawed recommendations, and more BEs.
New Non-Member Pricing Established to Attend the Ag Aviation Expo
NAAA is excited to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the aerial application industry in Savannah during the 2021 Ag Aviation Expo Dec. 6-9. With the multiple extravaganzas planned to celebrate the centennial this year at the Ag Aviation Expo and to encourage ag aviation operators, pilots, crew, allied businesses and affiliated individuals to join the association, NAAA leadership established a policy that to avoid a higher attendee fee, NAAA recommends NAAA membership to attend the show and save money.
The non-member registration fee for the 2021 Ag Aviation Expo will increase to $1,005 for pre-registration (July 1–Nov. 5) and $1,085 for regular registration (Nov. 6–Dec. 9). If you plan to attend this year’s Ag Aviation Expo, please join NAAA in advance to obtain the cheaper convention registration rate.
The best time to join NAAA is now to maximize your calendar year (Jan. 1–Dec. 31) membership. And if you join by June 30, you will receive a lower membership rate. Annually, on July 1, membership rates increase 3%. Again, NAAA membership runs from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 (we do not pro-rate membership). It benefits non-members to join now to receive more time as an NAAA member—and access to the associated membership benefits—than waiting until closer to the Ag Aviation Expo.
What NAAA membership benefits?
- Government Representation: Resources supplied by your membership are what enabled NAAA to succeed in getting aerial application classified as an “essential” business allowing aerial applicators to work uninterrupted during the pandemic. NAAA also has had success fighting for exemptions from FAA user fees and federal fuel excise taxes. The association worked with Congress to enact tower marking requirements and remote identification requirements for drones flying in the national airspace. NAAA also works to ensure that the EPA labels pesticides for aerial use without unnecessary and burdensome restrictions so that you have a stacked inventory of tools at your disposal to protect your customers’ crops.
- Complimentary one-hour legal consultation on federal aviation laws.
- Staying connected to members and an A-to-Z guide of ag aviation parts, equipment and service suppliers through the print and online NAAA Membership Directory.
- Weekly eNewsletters, substantive website content, quarterly Agricultural Aviation magazine and influential social media communication to stay abreast of important industry news.
- NAAA membership coupled with participation in Ag Aviation Expo sessions, PAASS and Operation S.A.F.E. Fly-Ins offer pilots and operators several ways to improve professionalism, earn potential CEUs and achieve discounts through their insurance providers.
- Since 2002 NAAA has successfully lobbied the government for an additional $11,312,500 in federal funding for aerial application research to develop and test new aerial application technologies designed to mitigate drift and make applications more efficient and cost-effective.
- Discounts for attending or exhibiting at the Ag Aviation Expo.
Ag Aviation Expo Base Pre-Registration Prices
(July 1–Nov. 5; rates increase beginning Nov. 6)
(Includes Welcome Reception & Farewell Reception Tickets; NO banquets)
- Member: $270
- Member Spouse: $205
- Non-Member: $1,005
- Non-Member Spouse: $340
- Child (under 18 with paid adult): Free
ADDITIONAL EXPO ITEMS
- Kickoff Breakfast AND Excellence in Ag Aviation Banquet: $125 per set (discount to purchase both banquets together)
- Monday Kickoff Breakfast ticket: $50 each
- Thursday Excellence in Ag Aviation Banquet ticket: $90 each
NAAA Adds Ag-Cat Aircraft and PT6-34AG Engine to Live Auction Items to Help Celebrate 100 Years of Aerial Application at 2021 Ag Aviation Expo
NAAA has received two very generous donations for this year’s Live Auction. Audible and heartfelt “thank you” to Pratt & Whitney Canada for donating a PT6-34AG engine to this year’s NAAA Live Auction. We appreciate the company’s continued support, partnership and generosity to NAAA and the aerial application industry for many years. The engine build specification (BS) is 1334, used on the Air Tractor, Thrush and Turbine Conversions STC.
Also, most sincere “thank you” to Darrel and Deb Mertens of Aero Applicators Inc., Sterling, Colorado, for donating a Grumman Ag-Cat G-164 A two-seat, open-cockpit aircraft. The aircraft is serial #277 and is in new condition. A few details include:
- 98.5 hours TTSOH and rebuild.
- TT SOH 88.5 hours (Pratt & Whitney Canada R-985-AN-14B).
- TT Prop 13 hours (Hamilton Standard 2D30).
- Plane has com, transponder and ICS, smoker, dual instruments, and dual controls (the aircraft can fly from either seat).
- Fresh condition report with compression test will be done in Fall 2020. Complete set of books and airframe drawings (by David Crankshaw, formerly of Hershey Flying Service).
Interested in donating an item?
We are still several months away from the 2021 Ag Aviation Expo in Savannah, Dec. 6-9, but it is not too early to donate an item for the Live and Silent Auction. If you have an interest in donating an item, learn more at www.agaviation.org/auctions or contact Lindsay Barber.
NAAA appreciates the generosity of every company and person who donates an auction item to our Live and Silent auctions.
Shine a Light on the Industry’s Unsung Heroes!
Use NAAA’s easy online awards form to submit a 2021 Award nomination
Nine recipients received NAAA Awards in 2020, including these four individuals. Who will be among this year’s awardees? Nominations are due by Sept. 10.
One of the highlights of each NAAA convention is the chance to honor a distinct group of the committed individuals and companies for their service to the agricultural aviation industry. The aerial application industry is filled with exceptional people who go above and beyond the call of duty, often with little fanfare. Make someone’s day, year or career by nominating him or her for a 2021 NAAA Award!
NAAA’s online submission form is the fastest and simplest way to nominate someone in just a few clicks, but the traditional PDF-based awards forms are also available options. The following submission methods are available at AgAviation.org/awards.
- 2021 Awards Nomination Online Submission Form (recommended)
2021 Award Nomination Form (Fillable PDF)
2021 Award Nomination Form (print version)
There are nine NAAA Award categories and one NAAREF Award. The nomination deadline is Sept. 10, but early nominations are encouraged. The longer you wait, the busier you’ll be as the summer season approaches.
NAAA Award Categories
Agrinaut Award: Honors an agricultural aircraft operator, operating organization or allied member company that has made an outstanding contribution in the field of ag aircraft operations. The achievement cited shall have contributed to the “state-of-the-art” for the benefit of the agricultural aircraft industry as a whole.
Allied Industry Individual Award: Recognizes an NAAA member or staff and/or an allied industry individual who has significantly contributed their efforts for the benefit of the allied industry and the aerial application industry. (Presented by the NAAA Allied Industry Committee.)
Delta Air Lines “Puffer” Award: Recognizes an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the design of agricultural aircraft and/or related equipment.
Evans-Christopher Operation S.A.F.E. Award: Recognizes individuals or entities that have made outstanding contributions to the Operation S.A.F.E. program. (Presented by NAAREF.)
John Robert Horne Memorial Award: Honors a pilot with five or fewer years of experience in the agricultural aviation industry who has an exemplary safety record and has contributed to safety in ag aviation. This award no longer has carryover nominations from year to year; a new nomination must be submitted every year.
Larsen-Miller Community Service Award: Recognizes outstanding contributions by a member to his or her community.
Opal & Bill Binnion Memorial Award: Acknowledges those who contribute to NAAA in its efforts to educate the public about aerial application. (Presented by the NAAA Support Committee.)
Outstanding Service Award: Awards outstanding service to the commercial agricultural aviation industry or to its association.
Related Industry Award: Recognizes outstanding contributions by an allied industry member and his or her company.
William O. Marsh Safety Award: Recognizes significant achievements in safety, safety education or an outstanding operational safety program.
The 2021 NAAA Award recipients will be announced in the fall and honored at the Excellence in Ag Aviation Banquet Dec. 9 in Savannah.
NAAA Targets Ag Retailers, Farmers with Spring Ad Buys
NAAA’s ad campaign promoting the benefits of aerial application to farmers and ag retailers is back and in full swing for the 2021 season. A March 8 ad in AgWeb AM, one of Farm Journal Media’s largest newsletters, kicked off a six-week email advertising run. On the print side, the first of two ads in The Scoop (formerly known as AgPro) will appear in the magazine’s March 2021 issue.
NAAA’s digital ads will continue to run in AgWeb AM’s Monday editions for five more weeks, concluding with AgWeb AM’s April 12 issue. AgWeb AM provides ag news, market and weather information each morning to an audience of 150,000 mostly grower subscribers.
AgWeb AM reaches 150,000 mostly grower subscribers.The half-page ad in The Scoop’s March issue will be followed by a full-page ad in its April/May 2021 issue. The Scoop delivers business solutions to 20,000 farmer advisers, including agricultural retailers/dealers, independent crop consultants, custom applicators, professional farm managers, extension services and fertilizer, pesticide, seed and equipment manufacturers.
As always, NAAA’s print and email ads feature the tagline “Aerial Application: Above All Other Forms of Crop Care” and promote how aerial application is by far the fastest, most versatile and economical way to aid farmers in producing greater crop yields. Additionally, this year’s campaign includes messaging that alludes to the industry’s 100th anniversary. A secondary tagline in the new digital ads that alternates with the primary tagline declares: “Aerial Application: Heightened Crop Care Since 1921.” Centennial-oriented messaging was also worked into the new print ads.
The calls to action direct readers to find an aerial applicator near them using NAAA’s “Find an Aerial Applicator” database of NAAA member operators.
NAAA has been promoting aerial application services through national ads in agricultural trade media for four years, dating back to 2017. NAAA selects a different trade magazine in which to advertise each year. In previous years the “Above All Other Forms of Crop Care” ad campaign has appeared in AgPro (2020), CropLife magazine (2017 and ’19) and Farm Journal magazine (2018). NAAA has been advertising in AgWeb AM’s weekday morning e-newsletter since 2018.
Update Your ‘Find an Aerial Applicator’ Listing
This ad campaign, along with the “Find an Aerial Applicator” database, is a service NAAA provides to operator members to help promote their businesses.
The “Find an Aerial Applicator” lookup tool gives NAAA Operator, Affiliated Operator and Lifetime Operator members the option of promoting their services to farmers and other potential customers by listing their company in NAAA’s narrowly tailored public database. The database only provides enough information to give farmers, municipalities and others who may need the services of an aerial applicator a mechanism to locate and contact the NAAA operators nearest to them. Search results return the name of the company, the business number on file, the operator’s city and state, and the aerial application operation’s website, if there is one.
To ensure your information is up to date, you can log in to AgAviation.org and, once logged in, you can update your listing with a logo, edit your listing or opt-out of the database. Operator, Affiliated Operator and Lifetime Operator members are free to opt-out or opt back in at any time. If you need assistance with updating your information, please contact the NAAA office at (202) 546-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NAAA Defends the Aerial Applications of Chlorpyrifos
Earlier this month, NAAA submitted comments to the EPA to argue against prohibiting aerial applications of chlorpyrifos. The comments were in response to the EPA’s proposed interim decision for chlorpyrifos. The EPA is required by the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to review the registrations for all crop protection products every 15 years. Interim decisions are being used by the EPA instead of a full reregistration of a product because the biological evaluations and pollinator protection assessments still need to be completed for most products.
The proposed interim decision indicated the proposed ban on the aerial applications of chlorpyrifos was based on risks to mixers and loaders, which was in turn affected by the use of a 10X safety factor. Elsewhere, however, the proposed interim decision stated the use of the 10X safety factor was for human health risks of concern related to the potential for neurodevelopmental effects on the young. The exposure path for these risks of concern was given as drinking water. NAAA commented that it is not appropriate to estimate risks to mixers and loaders based on a drinking water exposure concern. Additionally, NAAA pointed out that the worker protection standard (WPS) already prohibits anyone under 18 from mixing and loading pesticides, so human health concerns for the young should not impact risk assessments for mixing and loading chlorpyrifos.
While NAAA disagreed with how the risks to mixers and loaders were calculated, a mitigation plan was proposed to help ensure aerial applications remain labeled for chlorpyrifos. NAAA proposed requiring both a closed loading system and an elastomeric half facepiece cartridge respirator when mixing and loading chlorpyrifos for aerial applications. The EPA recommended this same combination on the recent proposed interim decision for triphenyltin hydroxide (TPTH), which NAAA referenced. NAAA also proposed banning the use of flaggers for aerial applications of chlorpyrifos, which, according to its industry surveys, is no longer used by the industry. To further work to ensure aerial application of chlorpyrifos continues, NAAA proposed banning the aerial application of all dry formulations of chlorpyrifos, including granule, water-soluble packets (WSP), and wettable powders. EPA models estimate a higher risk of inhalation for these formulations, which are rarely if ever used by aerial applicators.
NAAA’s comments highlighted the importance aerial application of chlorpyrifos plays for timely pest control, particularly when the ground is wet and when a pest outbreak requires a high number of acres to be treated in a short time. Many of the pests treated with chlorpyrifos, such as soybean aphids, are aggressive and can cause a great deal of crop damage in a short amount of time. NAAA pointed out to the EPA that it is these situations in particular where growers rely on aerial applications. NAAA referenced comments from the American Crystal Sugar Company that specifically stated the importance of aerial applications of chlorpyrifos for sugarbeet growers.
NAAA’s comments addressed and questioned, once again, EPA’s use of the Tier 1 model in AgDRIFT to estimate drift from aerial applications. This model uses many inaccurate assumptions and substantially overestimates the risk of drift associated with modern aerial applications. These faulty assumptions include a smaller than commonly used droplet size, a swath displacement shorter than industry standards, a slight inversion present during the application despite being prohibited on the label, wind speed measured at a height appropriate for ground applications instead of aerial applications and modeling the application to bare ground instead of a standing crop. NAAA referred the EPA to a letter submitted to the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs last June for a detailed analysis of all the inaccuracies of the Tier 1 model and how to use the Tier 3 AgDRIFT model to improve the accuracy of aerial drift estimates. NAAA argued in favor of a 15-mph wind speed limit, but indicated our acceptance of 10 mph if necessary to ensure aerial applications of chlorpyrifos. In terms of buffer zones, NAAA reminded the EPA again that all buffer zones need to be based on the wind direction, as spray drift only moves downwind, not upwind.
In addition to the threat to aerial applications, chlorpyrifos faces a complete ban in the U.S. Therefore, in addition to our own comments, NAAA helped author and signed onto a coalition letter to the EPA to support the reregistration of chlorpyrifos for all its currently registered uses. The coalition of 37 stakeholders included growers, retailers, applicators, distributors, manufacturers and crop consultants, including the Agricultural Retailers Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, American Sugarbeet Growers Association, National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council, National Onion Association, National Potato Council, National Sorghum Producers, National Sunflower Association, and USA Rice.
The full comments submitted by NAAA to the EPA on the concerns with the proposed interim decision for chlorpyrifos can be read here. NAAA will be commenting on numerous registration review documents in 2021, including endangered species assessments for glyphosate and several important fungicides. NAAA remains committed to ensuring your operation has access to the products your customers demand to be applied aerially.
Innovative Wire Marker Tool Now Available Stateside
The Rotamarka wire marker blends elements of movement, contrasting colors and three-dimensional form to make powers lines, cables, wires and conductors more conspicuous to pilots.
Wire collisions make up a significant number of accidents annually in the aerial application industry due to the difficulty in seeing such wires used for either telecommunications or power transmission. Over the 10-year period from 2011 to 2020, there was an average of nine ag aviation wire strike accidents per year. Over that same 10-year period, wire strikes accounted for 16% of all fatal ag aviation accidents.
Now a U.S. dealer for the Australian company Balmoral Engineering— Sicame USA—is established stateside to market the much-easier-to-see “Rotamarka” wire marker, which attaches to transmission wires. NAAA first reported on the Rotamarka in the Summer 2019 issue of Agricultural Aviation. The marker is unique in that it combines movement with multi-color vanes and reflectors to alert the pilot to the wire. A video of the marker can be found here. More information about the marker is available on the Balmoral Engineering website.
The marker was designed for horizontal wires and may be used on diagonal guy wires as well. NAAA is working with Sicame USA to identify and contact power distribution companies to urge them to install markers such as the Balmoral Rotamarka wire marker. The markers are also available for sale to individual ag operators to provide to power distribution companies and rural electric cooperatives. Ag operators are encouraged to inform their local power companies about the wire markers’ availability for purchase and placement on difficult-to-see wires.
In Australia, there is also a Look up and Live app that uses geospatial information to digitally mark the location of overhead power lines. Wires that cross corners or have their supporting poles hidden by background obstructions such as trees are the most difficult to identify. Guy wires on poles and towers also contribute to accidents each year. A quality wire marker would reduce the frequency of these accidents.
Contact Sicame USA at (630) 238-6680 or email@example.com for more information on the Rotamarka wire marker.
Little Rock FSDO FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam) Presents Webinar on Aerial Applicators Working in Areas with UAS
On March 4, NAAA staff along with Damon Reabe, Wisconsin ag aviation operator and chairman of NAAA’s Government Relations Committee, participated in a Little Rock, Arkansas, FSDO FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam) webinar titled “Aerial Applicators Working in Areas with UAS.” The webinar presenters were all from Arkansas, including speakers from the University of Arkansas, WRK of Arkansas and the Little Rock FSDO. The target audience was UAS operators working in the agricultural environment, and the presentations focused on how to work safely together to prevent an accident between manned and unmanned aircraft.
Dr. Terry Spurlock, plant pathologist with the University of Arkansas, started off the webinar with a discussion on how UAS are used in agriculture, primarily to collect remotely sensed data for surveying crop damage and to conduct research. Dr. Spurlock’s laboratory uses UAS for research, and he stressed his main goal is to have a safe interaction with ag aircraft. His lab’s preflight checklist includes notifying all aerial applicators, by phone, within a 15-mile radius of where they will be operating. The University’s lab personnel describe to the aerial applicators they contact the exact location and time frame during which they will be operating the UAS. They also seek to understand when and where aerial applicators might be working in the nearby area. Dr. Spurlock stressed how it is absolutely critical that UAS always give the right of way to manned aircraft.
Next up was another professor from the University of Arkansas, Dr. Richard Ham, who raised concerns about safety in the ag aviation airspace as the use of UAS increases. According to Dr. Ham, UAS operators need to focus on risk management and mitigation and need to be ever vigilant for ag aircraft. Ham provided an update on current UAS rules including Remote Identification (RID), night operations, recurrent training, registration, and other 107 rules. He stated, due to aerial imaging and applications conducted for crops, the agricultural airspace is an area where UAS and manned aircraft incidents are most likely to occur.
Members of the Little Rock FSDO FAASTeam Jamie Black and Heather Metzler provided an overview of the requirements for UAS making applications under 14 CFR Part 137 operations. The workshop finished up with NAAA member Dr. Dennis Gardisser of WRK of Arkansas, and a former professor at the University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture, speaking about ag aircraft operations in an effort to better educate UAS operators on manned aerial applications and associated rules. He provided information on common altitudes used in ag aviation, where ag aircraft operate from, documents required for ag aircraft, the Part 137 knowledge and skills test, and the five most common factors in agricultural aircraft accidents. Most importantly for the UAS operators attending the webinar, Dr. Gardisser gave advice on how UAS pilots can avoid aerial applicators.
Canadian Ag Aviation Industry Told by Their Regulatory Agency to Follow Labeled GPA Rate—Same Message Applies to U.S. Ag Aviators
The Canadian Aerial Applicators Association (CAAA) received a letter in February from its government’s Pesticide Compliance Program (PCP)—a part of the Health Canada Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. EPA. PMRA is responsible for verifying and enforcing compliance with Canada’s pesticide laws and regulations. Like the U.S., Canada’s pesticide regulations require all pesticide applicators to read and follow label requirements. Using of a pesticide inconsistent with its labeling is a violation of the law.
Recently the PCP has been conducting inspections of Canadian aerial application operations. During these inspections, they noted situations where ag aviators were using lower spray application rates (gallons of spray per acre or GPA) than the minimum GPA allowed by the label. Just like in the U.S., this is a violation of the pesticide label and the law.
In addition, based on advertisements for aerial application services using electrostatic spray systems, PCP reminded CAAA that electrostatic spray systems have not been evaluated by PMRA and are therefore not listed on pesticide labels as approved aerial application equipment. Because of this, the use of electrostatic spray systems for aerial applications is off-label and illegal.
PCP requested that CAAA communicate with members about these label violations and urge aerial applicators to always follow pesticide label directions. They reminded CAAA that non-compliance with following the label could result in enforcement actions taken against operations found to be in violation. Electrostatic application systems are allowed to be used in the United States, but the labeled GPA must be used to ensure legal use.
This letter also serves as a reminder to U.S. aerial applicators about the importance of always reading and following the instructions on pesticide labels. While there are many times that labels can be confusing and even contradictory, it is critical that aerial applicators do their best to comply with all application requirements found on the label. Remember, just because there is research that suggests a lower spray application rate may provide equal or better efficacy, this does not mean that it is legal to apply at that rate. No matter what the research says, it is off-label and illegal to apply at a GPA lower than the minimum specified on the label.
NAAA has developed a good working relationship with the EPA. We have been successful at reregistering products with aerial applications on the label while minimizing burdensome and unnecessary restrictions and made substantial progress towards changing the models EPA uses to estimate the risk of drift from aerial applications. The efforts have resulted in the maximum allowed wind speed during which aerial applications can be made increasing from 10 to 15 mph for many pesticides. The backbone of these successes is the demonstrated professionalism of ag aviators in the U.S. Widespread label violations of any type could damage the relationship between NAAA and EPA and set back the gains that have been made. Please remember to always read and follow pesticide label directions.
Whether You’re a Pilot, Operator or Allied Business, Support the Centennial Celebration of Aerial Application — Many More Sponsorship Opportunities Available
Thank you to the companies that have committed to supporting the 100th anniversary of the aerial application industry. This year, the agricultural aviation industry is celebrating its first 100 years of service of providing food, fiber and bioenergy, in addition to protecting forestry and controlling health-threatening pests, to our great nation. As NAAA prepares for this centennial celebration, we invite you to take part as a donor and participant in this once-in-a-lifetime anniversary. You are part of this industry and should be celebrated! You can learn more about sponsorship opportunities and the 100th anniversary on the new website AgAviation100.com.
We have four sponsorship levels available and your logo, advertisement and/or story can be seen for years in a book, documentary, in eBlasts and on our 100th anniversary website. Individual donations are also welcome at any dollar amount (see pages 4 and 5 of our sponsorship brochure).
Aug. 3, 2021, marks the 100th anniversary of an experiment in Ohio when lead arsenate dust was spread over catalpa trees to kill sphinx moth larvae. In honor of this accomplishment, we are planning a major campaign to include a short documentary, a complete history book of the industry and a significant outreach campaign to the public and the media through media briefings, press releases, website and social media that showcase the proud history and promising future of aerial application.
Sponsoring the 100th anniversary is a great way to show your support of the industry's longevity and potentially showcase your contributions to the industry. Your level of support provides you the opportunity to be seen for years to come in the book, on the website and social media, at events and in the documentary.
Click here to view our 100th anniversary sponsorship brochure. This is an industry-wide celebration; we welcome your sponsorship ideas if there is a different way that you would like to support the anniversary and industry.
Our industry has a remarkable story to tell. It plays a crucial role in helping farmers feed, clothe and provide biofuel to the world. And we hope you will join us in supporting the 100th anniversary celebration of the aerial application industry.
NAAA Joins Hands to Attain FBO Fee Transparency and Standardization of FAA Airport Diagrams
Under the “Know Before You Go initiative,” FBOs may voluntarily list their fees and prices for turbine and piston aircraft in AOPA’s Airport Directory.
NAAA recently joined the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and many other state/regional agricultural aviation associations and national general aviation associations in calling for fixed-base operator (FBO) fee transparency at the nation’s public-use airports.
One program in particular, known as “Know Before You Go,” encourages FBOs to voluntarily place their prices and ramp fees online so all pilots can make informed decisions in their preflight planning. Ramp fees include infrastructure fees, security fees, tie-down fees, handling fees, parking fees, overnight fees, etc. that are charged to both piston and turbine aircraft operators.
Letting pilots of piston and turbine aircraft know what the fees are at a particular airport before they arrive enables pilots to make an informed decision on the best place to land and creates more competition among FBOs. At this point, about 25% of the 3,000 FBO locations are participating in this transparency initiative, mostly small and independent FBOs. This coalition effort, which includes the support of multiple aviation groups, seeks to increase the compliance rate, especially with the large chain FBOs.
With respect to airport ramp transparency, the “Know Before You Go” campaign encourages the use of standardized General Aviation parking labels, where applicable, on FAA-required airport diagrams. This, too, will help pilots in their preflight planning and effectively address the use of multiple terms currently being used to describe the same parking area.
Today, about 700 airports are required to have an airport diagram, and the FAA is moving to increase that number to over 3,000. A recent AOPA survey found nearly 30 different labels for the same type of GA parking ramp—in Southern California alone. On a national scale that number multiplies, hence this effort to standardize. Standardized General Aviation parking labels for airport diagrams, where applicable, include GA Transient Ramp, GA Tenant Ramp, FBO Ramp and CBP Ramp.
Under the “Know Before You Go initiative,” FBOs can voluntarily use their own website, an airport website or the AOPA Airport Directory to list fees and prices for turbine and piston aircraft. AOPA’s airport database is a great tool for ag pilots migrating to help operators in need of ag pilots in other parts of the country as they relocate their aircraft.