Stay Safe Watching Aerial Applications Over Farm Fields

Gigi Neal, ANR Educator Clermont County and Dee Jepsen, Professor and State Agricultural Safety Leader

Many times, we see an airplane or helicopter going over head and it catches our attention to look up and see what kind of plane it is, or what they are doing. Some aircrafts can be personal planes, while others can be military or law enforcement units. Some medical helicopters are easily noticed, especially if they are nose down, on the way to an incident scene. 

Airplanes and helicopters are also used in agriculture production to plant seeds for agronomic crops, cover crops and also to apply fertilizers and pesticides. Aerial applications, also known as crop dusting, is common in Ohio. It is a specialty service for fields that are in their advanced growing stages - where equipment can no longer pass through without ruining the crop. The property owner who hires this work to be done, may not know exactly when this application is going to occur, which makes it difficult to let the neighbors know. 

As you see these aerial devices above, it is interesting to watch them in action. However, it is also important to respect the work zone. Here are a few recommendations for safely watching aerial applicators.

  • Stay a safe distance away from the field where the aircraft is working. Do not stand on the edge of the field where you might encounter chemical particles. While these pilots are highly skilled, and use GPS coordinates for pesticide application, there may be a small chance to feel the spray if you are within the mapped area of the field.
  • If you watch the field application from a vehicle, please practice roadway safety. Do not stop on a road – pull your vehicle over to the side of the road and use warning flashers. Do not stand in the roadway.

Watching aerial applicators at work is exciting site to see. It is important for by-standers to respect the safety zone. 

For more information about aerial applications, and the celebration of 100 years of aerial applicators, read the story at:

Gigi Neal is an ANR Educator Clermont County, can be reached at 513-732-7070 or Dee Jepsen, Extension State Safety Leader, can be reached at 614-292-6008 or This column is provided by the OSU Extension Agricultural Safety and Health Team.