Ottawa The Ottawa Co-op Assn. has sprouted wings.
Co-op officials got into the crop-spraying business this week when they purchased LeMaster Aerial Spraying Inc. of Ottawa and Burlington, a privately owned operation with two crop-spraying planes.
"This is going to give us a whole new dimension in application of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides," said Calvin Pearson, co-op fertilizer and ag chemical manager.
For 17 years, the organization has provided custom applications with ground spraying. But ground spraying has limitations. If a field is too muddy or too rough, for instance, a truck won't do.
Besides having fewer limitations, aerial spraying is a quicker than ground spraying.
"In an airplane, you can treat 1,000 acres a day," Pearson said. "In a ground rig, you can only do 400 to 500."
Dale Guimond, Burlington, will serve as the Ottawa co-op's chief pilot.
Co-op officials said aerial application requirements were among the strictest in agriculture. To keep flying, the organization must comply with regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Aviation Administration and state and federal transportation and agriculture departments.