Once the seed is soaked, time is of the essence. The seed is loaded into trucks and taken to the airstrip or a loading spot in the field. The rice is moved out of the truck (upper left corner) by a special conveyer into a cone shaped hopper mounted on a truck (upper center).

     The Ag pilot lands and the truck moves into position (upper right) to empty the hopper into the airplane (center). The compartment in front of the pilot holds about 400 gallons of spray or 2000 pounds of seed. The highly skilled pilots (lower right) must avoid obstacles (wires, trees, buildings) around the fields as they apply their payload. To allow for this the planes are high horsepower turbo props (680 hp) and very maneuverable. When applying seed they fly about 35-40 feet off the ground. When spraying for weeds, they are only 10 feet off the ground. At either height they are traveling between 115-125 mph.

     The seed comes out of the the plane through a special spreader (lower center) mounted on the bottom of the plane. This gives an even distribution of seed over the field. Most planes are also GPS guidance equipped to allow for very accurate placement of the seed or spray. The plane covers a strip about the width of the wings with seed. He can plant about 10 acres per load.

     The lower left photo gives you an idea of the pilot's skill. These pictures were taken on a "landing strip" out in a field. This is nothing more than a dirt road not even as wide as the plane's wings. The pilot lands and takes off from these strips to save time getting to the field. Since it takes many trips to plant a whole field, they try to minimize their time traveling there. As they like to say, they only make money when delivering something - landing, takeoff and transit are just expenses.

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