Choppers hitting weeds hard

Choppers hitting weeds hard


Advertising Features
Aa

HELICOPTER spraying is making life on the land easier for many South Australian farmers. County Helicopters' Ashley Dickson brings more than 30 years' experie...

HELICOPTER spraying is making life on the land easier for many South Australian farmers.

Aa

County Helicopters' Ashley Dickson brings more than 30 years' experience as a helicopter pilot to the Ballarat, Vic-based operation, which has been working as a spraying contractor since 2000.

While the company was established across the Victorian border, County Helicopters has had plenty of spraying work to do in SA through the years.

More recently, it has embarked research projects using their staff's expertise with all things that fly - including drones.

AERIAL ATTACK: Helicopter spraying is being used to good effect across a range of farming practices in SA on crops ranging from broadacre to vineyards, almonds and potatoes.

AERIAL ATTACK: Helicopter spraying is being used to good effect across a range of farming practices in SA on crops ranging from broadacre to vineyards, almonds and potatoes.

"We do a lot of pre-emergent spraying of potatoes, both in Vic and SA, and then we follow on with fungicide and insecticide applications," Mr Dickson said.

"We do general farm spraying, general weed spraying and sometimes there's broadacre jobs to be done.

"If it's wet enough, we will get broadacre spraying."

A major part of the South Australian work County Helicopters gets is with the forestry industry, but the company is also called on for frost control on vineyards and almond orchards, with large contracts undertaken in the Riverland.

"Our farm spraying work in SA is mostly through the Fleurieu, Virginia and the lower Mid North around Clare," Mr Dickson said.

"We have done quite a bit of broadacre spraying around Clare, in a wet year, and also quite a bit on the grapevines.

"In those wet years, there's a lot of weeds around and we can use the choppers to get in there.

"We're also doing a lot of hills spraying in and around the wind farms.

"The planes don't like the wind farms so we are finding we're getting more of that work.''

County Helicopters also has two machines that are dedicated to mustering exercises north of Port Augusta and in the Flinders Ranges going up as far as Coober Pedy.

Mr Dickson is also working in conjunction with a Sydney-based company and Landmark Jamestown, conducting research collecting data using drones flying over crops and mapping nitrogen levels.

"We've been doing about 3000 hectares each season for the past two years collecting data for nitrogen and hopefully we'll expand on that for plant counts and weed maps and that kind of thing,'' he said.

"It's not visual data - it is technical data that is then put into software packages and paddock maps where the farmer can prescribe and apply fertiliser or chemical accordingly.

"It's a tool that you use for prescription applications.

"You might have a couple of hundred hectares of wheat and only 120ha of that needs fertiliser.''

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by