Agricultural airplanes, also known as “crop dusters” or “top dressers” are airplanes used for aerial application of pesticides or fertilizers and are also used for hydroseeding.
Aerial application of chemicals to treat crops dates back to the early 1900s. In 1906, John Chayton used a Hot Air Balloon to spread seed over a valley in New Zealand.
In the 1920s, airplanes were modified to build “crop dusters” with Daland Crop Dusting owning the first commercial crop-dusting airplane in the USA.
Today there are many different types of agricultural airplanes available like the Air Tractor, Cessna Ag-wagon, Grumman Ag Cat, etc,
These type of airplanes are normally small, rugged and includes spraying systems attached to the trailing edges of the wings. More powerful turboprops are also used in areas with large farming land.
Purpose build agricultural airplanes have strengthened cockpits to protect pilots in case of an accident as these aircraft generally fly in very low altitudes just above the crops in fields surrounded by obstacles like trees and telephone lines.
The Air Tractor AT-802A is the world’s largest single-engine agricultural aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight of 16,000 lbs.
In comparison, the Twin Engine DHC6 Twin Otter has a maximum takeoff weight of 12,500 lbs.
Yesterday there were six Air Tractor aircraft transiting from Velana International Airport as the airplanes were being moved to a new base in Greece from Australia.