So if I'm in Colorado, I have to go see an old friend Darrel Mertens. Darrel is owner/operator of Retail Partner Aero Applicators in Sterling. I have known Darrel and his wife Deb for decades. Aero Applicators is a top retailer of AgroLiquid by Air Tractor planes, ground rig and farmer application. And even though Darrel is the boss of the operation, he will still give his planes a bath, even though he doesn't fly himself much these days. He does direct traffic on the ground, and they were busy when I was there last week.
Tommy here is one of his pilots and is a fellow Okie from Fairview. He's just been here a couple weeks, but Darrel says he is a great young pilot. Nice guy too.
So Tommy is off to spray as veteran ag pilot Roger returns. Roger farms in Illinois but has flown for Aero for a number of years. They have another plane that is a larger model, but it is up fighting forest fires in South Dakota. What an operation. Today they are spraying Cercospora in sugarbeets and spider mites in corn.
Tommy gets airborne. It was cloudy, but the rain was miles away. And calm. They were able to keep spraying into the afternoon which is rare.
So if you've read blog posts in the past, I always get a plane ride with Darrel to look at crops. This time we would take his recently re-built Ag Cat spray plane. It was a 1965 model that he and crew completely rebuilt themselves over a period of years. Beautiful.
We take off and circle back over the Aero Applicators compound. That's the dirt strip just above the buildings.
I think it was 7 years ago that I showed this pivot of corn that uses not AgroLiquid next to some pivots that do. That is the non field under the plane with yellow corn from the high pH soil and a green field of Pro-Germinator and Micro 500 above it that looks much better. Consistent and sustainable it is.
Darrel flips the plane upside down to make sure my seat belt is fastened. He doesn't mess around when it comes to safety.
So Darrel said we had to make a "simulated" crop dusting run in the old Ag Cat. That's what she was built to do. So we made a run over this corn field. And at the end of the field we made a steep climb and turn and made another run the other way. I guess I was sitting where the tank used to be. So it was a dry run. Was fun. But I kidded Darrel that we weren't really low enough because there were no corn tassels on the axle.
So that was fun. But I did more than watch planes fly. Agronomist Wes and I looked at some customer fields too. From the ground. More on that tomorrow.