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Parkland Aerial Applicators Adds New Air Tractor To Fleet

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Parkland Aerial Applicators has been providing aerial application services to local farmers in the Parkland since 2017.

The company recently added to its fleet, acquiring a 2021 Air Tractor 502XP.

“The XP denotes the fact that it is a higher performance aircraft than a regular 502. It hauls 500 gallons on even the most hot days and when weather is a limiting factor to aircraft performance,” said Parkland Aerial Applicators president Michael Potoroka.

“With the patchy areas of extreme precipitation that we had in this area last year, we had to turn down a lot of work. We just could not keep up with the work, there was so much of it.”

The new plane allowed Parkland Aerial Applicators to become part of a consortium in western Canada that goes to Quebec during the month of June to help control the spruce bug worm on behalf of the Quebec government.

The plane, Potoroka added, will be back from Quebec just in time for the application season for wheat and canola.

The new aircraft is faster than the Air Tractor 301 currently in service, which will allow Potoroka and his flight crew to spend more time actually spraying.

“And we can do it from our base of operations right here in the RM of Dauphin,” he said, adding he is one of three pilots who share flying duties on the two aircraft.

Parkland Aerial Applicators also does some work on behalf of some of the local input retailers.

“So a lot of times, we can be booked through the local retailers. Or we can be booked directly,” Potoroka said, adding they can be booked on their website at parklandaerialapplicators.ca or by calling 204-647-2731.

“We can arrange for chemical pickup from wherever they buy their chemical. Or we can even supply chemical for them. It’s the producer’s choice,” he said.

With high canola prices in the $15 a bushel range for new crop canola and the varieties of straight cut canola that a lot of producers are growing now, Potoroka is finding that there is a call for dessication in the fall.

“With the average ground sprayer, there’s anywhere from three to four per cent yield loss just from ground sprayer tracks. Producers are recognizing now that the aircraft is a way to apply that fall dessication of Round Up or Reglone to condition the crop for combining and it’s minimal cost in relation to what is lost in yield from the wheel tracks,” he said.

Potoroka farms 4,000 acres himself and uses the aircraft extensively on his own operation.

“And without a doubt, it adds to the bottom line, if not just for the issue that we’re not leaving wheel tracks, but just from the fact that with one airplane alone, we can spray 3,500 acres a day,” he said. “The windows are so tight on the fungicide application. Now, in some cases, it’s only 72 hours, the aircraft can get there and get the job done and get it done effectively.”

With the demand from the foresty contract they have, Potoroka anticipates adding another aircraft this winter. The aircraft, he said, usually have to be ordered 10 months in advance to have delivery on your given date.

“The advantage being that when it gets back to Manitoba at the beginning of July, then it adds to our capacity,” he said.

Investing in new aircraft, Potoroka added, increases their reliability and they look forward to continuing to serve farmers in the Parkland.

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Doug Zywina
REPORTER
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