There are several advantages of crop spraying with a helicopter. There is no trampling of crops as with conventional crop spraying methods. There is no need for man-made spray equipment paths in the fields so these areas can now be farmed and more produce can be generated by these once fallow areas on the farmlands.
The helicopter, because of its versatility, can land anywhere, at any given time and on uneven or muddy terrain. Unlike fixed-wing aircraft that require a landing strip that must have a stable surface, the turn-around time is also greatly reduced because a helicopter can land close to the customer’s fields. The overall cost is comparable to ground spraying, especially considering there is no crop damage as what happens with conventional groundbased spraying methods.
Application speeds are half of those of fixed wing aircraft, which allows for more accurate spraying and coverage. Helicopters fly very low above the crop canopy, ensuring better penetration and less drift. Fast applications of up to 60 hectares per hour are achieved. In addition, helicopters produce a tremendous amount of downward air movement, that ensures that the sprayed chemicals penetrate deep into the crop canopy which ensures complete coverage.
SAO owns and operates its own fleet of fully equipped Enstrom piston 280FX & Enstrom 480B turbine helicopter for seeding, spreading & spraying. The Enstrom is rated the safest helicopter in its class in the world. Within the past season Safomar has sprayed maize and potatoes in the Warden and Verde regions, whilst presently Safomar helicopters are spraying citrus and sugar cane in the Mpumalanga lowveld region. Safomar helicopters have successfully sprayed more than 2000 hectares in just under four days. Recently Safomar has been awarded a contract to spray chemicals to eliminated black flies within the Orange River region by the South African Department of Agriculture.