French Helo Lobby Fights Vineyard Crop-dusting Ban

 - May 19, 2011, 7:20 AM

French helicopter lobby UFH and Alain Suguenot, a parliament member from France’s famous wine region, Burgundy, both have voiced concerns that the recent law banning most crop-dusting activities on environmental grounds may have counter-productive effects. According to Suguenot, for one hectare (about 2.5 acres) of vineyard, a helicopter uses only 16 gallons of liquid fertilizer, thanks to its pinpoint precision. A riding tractor would use four to eight times more fertilizer, Suguenot wrote to the minister of agriculture. In terms of time spent, the helicopter, which spends less than four minutes per hectare, has an eight-fold advantage over ground-bound options, claim proponents. Another argument is that tractors pack the soil down, while helicopters do not. A source familiar with vine-growing methods agreed that the helicopter is more precise, but pointed out that local residents around vineyards can hear the noise of the aircraft and smell the fertilizer spray when the winds are moderate or strong.