A super season
Shane (right) and Grahame take a break for lunch. No fancy farmer-supplied meals these days for the topdressing boys!
The market for aerial topdressing over summer has been strong, according to Super Air manager Neil Miller.
He says this has come on the back of a significant drought last summer, followed by a good spring, with farmers making the most of the opportunity to boost fertility levels on their farms while conditions were favourable.
“Super Air is expecting a busy autumn season, with most aerial topdressers in the industry typically experiencing more than half their annual production during this period,” he says.
Neil’s message for farmers looking to use aerial topdressing services over autumn is to get it on early, before the rain arrives.
“Don’t wait for the rain to come. If you wait for the rain it’s too late. There will be high demands on aircraft during this time and the best results are achieved by having the application on ready for the rain,” he says.
He points out that farmers who wait until later in the season could end up waiting several weeks for their application and therefore miss a growing opportunity during this critical period.
Meanwhile in the Manawatu, Shane Wareham has been kept busy with local demand. He and his father Dave are one of the country’s few small owner-operator topdressing companies. Recently Shane has been applying a “super mix” with his FU24-950M on hill country in the northern Manawatu.
Shane has been flying for 23 years and says this season is becoming more “condensed”. He says pilots like himself have less time to put on the super than they used to, due to a combination of weather and farming practices.
“We normally get busiest when the days shorten up and the weather starts to turn a bit. We don’t do much in January and February, and our busy period is mid to late autumn,” he says.
Wareham Airspray is based near Bunnythorpe, north of Palmerston North. As the name suggests, it originally did a lot of spray work but now spreads only fertiliser.
-Report and photography by Peter Burke.
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