Access Helicopters rises to the challenge

In Lee Hart’s Farmer Panel in the May 21 issue of Grainews, Saskatchewan farmer Jeff Prosko mentioned he’d be using a helicopter for fungicide applications this year. Everyone at Grainews was curious about the helicopters, so we decided to find out more.

Prosko is also president of ProSoils, a family-owned ag retailer based out of Rose Valley, Sask. Prosko has lined up Access Helicopters to apply the fungicide for ProSoil’s clients.

“He tells us where to go spray. And we do that. And they set up the droplet size and all of that. The atomizers, if they want them,” says Mike Holcroft, pilot and co-owner of Access Helicopters.

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Prosko says the price is competitive with an airplane doing the same application and using the same water volume.

“Our base rate is four gallons per acre and we’ll do five if a farmer wants,” says Prosko.

Part of the draw of aerial applications is eliminating wheel tracks. Prosko says the helicopter is as effective as a ground rig on application coverage and chemical efficiency.

Farmers seem to be excited about the service, says Holcroft. The helicopter eliminates worries about human resources and equipment. They also like the fact that the crop won’t be trampled, he adds.

Holcroft says they can also cover fields that can’t be sprayed by a plane, due to obstacles, coulees or rolling hills.

As a company, Access Helicopters has been applying fungicides for a couple of years, Holcroft says. “The pilots we have flying for us have done it for five, six years now.”

Holcroft says they got into this after talking to farmers and seeing them struggle with crewing groundsprayers, training people and machinery costs.

Farmers also wanted to get more water on their crops with aerial applications, Holcroft says, something helicopters can do. Access Helicopters uses B2 and B3 A Stars, which will carry 240 and 265 gallons respectively.

“We can spray upwards of 2,000 acres per day on a good day.”

Access Helicopters has a range of clients. Pilots fly adventurers into the backcountry for heli-ski trips. They also work in mining, flying in people, diamond drills, or any other needed equipment.

“We specialize in aerial cranes so we’ve got really good long line pilots who work for us.”

Holcroft is looking forward to fungicide application season. “In terms of challenges in the helicopter business, it’s really kind of moderate. It’s a nice business to be in.”

Contact ProSoils at (306) 322-2013.

About the author

Field Editor

Lisa Guenther

Lisa Guenther is field editor for Grainews based at Livelong, Sask. You can follow her on Twitter @LtoG.

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