An aerial solution to the threat of farm inspection penalties
Published 06/05/2015 | 02:30
Could this be the future for Irish farmers desparate to avoid penalties in their farm inspections?
Andrew McGillivray's PDG Helicopters obviously thinks so. They offer a fern-spraying service for €150/ac plus VAT.
"We generally cover about 60ac an hour in a Squirrell machine, but we have managed to spray up to 1,000ac in a day," said Mr McGillivray.
The application rate is kept low, at less than 20 litres per acre, but at a high concentration. This allows the helicopter to cover 33ac before having to refill.
"The active ingrediant is asulam, which we have a special licence to use at highly concentrated rates.
It is highly selective, in that it will control ferns, but leave grass, heather and gorse unharmed," said Mr Gillivray.
The minimum area that PDG will charter their helicopter for, along with two mobile water tankers, is 1,500ac. In addition, follow up sprays will be required from 2-10 years later.
"The spray doesn't eradicate the ferns, and the level of control depends a lot on the initial density of the weed in the first place," he added.
PDG carries out up to 80pc of the aerial crop spraying in Britain, where landowners have been able to use upland subsidies to offset a large part of the cost of the spraying.