Business Rural North Winter 2021

72 | RURAL SERVICES » Rural Aerial Co-op Topdressing co-op stands the test of time Virginia Wright For all your Rural Transport needs 027 688 2081 • o r “For the real deal call Beale” Specialising in livestock cartage & general freight transport in the lower North Island region 61 Short Road, Pahiatua, New Zealand, 4982 PH. 06 376 7181 MOB. 0274 778036 B ack in the 70s there were aerial top-dressing companies scattered all over rural New Zealand. Today there are far fewer but one of the originals, now believed to be the last remaining aerial topdressing co-operative, still works out of Pahiatua. It’s called, unsurprisingly, the Rural Aerial Co-op and it’s still serving its initial catchment of the lower North Island, operating two aeroplanes applying fertiliser from Whanganui across to Waipukerau, south to Otaki and the Wairarapa, and everywhere in between. John Arends has been chairman of the board for Rural Aerial Co-Op for the last ten years, and was one of their pilots for 15 years before that. He has an active hand in keeping things running smoothly, although the two pilots do a lot of the day-to-day organizing for themselves. “We’re still pretty personal here. The pilots sort out their work directly with the farmers and I make sure the bills get paid and keep up with all the health and safety side of things,” says John. Over the years tonnage has reduced along with the number of aircraft working. “25 years ago there were probably 150 aeroplanes applying fertiliser around New Zealand, now there’s about 50,” says John. “Tonnage has dropped back by 20 to 30 per cent plus the aeroplanes are a lot bigger so they’re carry a bigger load so you don’t need as many loads to do the same area.” Farmers being more selective about where they’re putting their fertiliser, and how much they want spread, accounts for a lot of the reduction in tonnage. The modern technology now available on the aircraft means the pilots can manage very spe- cific instructions about where the fertilizer should go, as John explains. “We’ve got two turbine Air Tractor aircraft built in the US. They come with GPS guidance systems for applications, as well as the capacity to vary their rate of application. The pilot can programme the farmer’s instructions into the GPS before starting the job, with the hopper operating automatically. “ John believes the modern technology evolved as a response to farmers’ desire to more accurately spread their fertilizer on their farm. “We like these aircraft because they have a very wide and even spread, probably the best of any Ag- • to page 71 Rural Aerial Co-op runs two US turbine Air Tractor aircraft equipped with GPS guidance systems. www. wollandcontracting rvices / Spraying • Cultivation Se • Grass & Maize Silage vation • Exca • Solid Muck / Slurry Spreading • Hay & Balage • General/Livestock Cartage 027 444 2000 027 446 0087 Maurice: Jamie: 06 376 8857 Office: AGRICULTURAL CONTRACTORS PAHIATUA