Posted by: 347bennetrd | February 10, 2011

Aerial Topdressing

Aerial topdressing, where a small plane flies around dropping superphosphate on steep country, was developed in New Zealand in the 1940s.  It’s a standard part of pasture management nowadays, replenishing the nutrients in the soil as they get depleted.

We have three airstrips on the farm where the plane can take off and land, and a superbin next to it where the superphosphate is stored.  Here is the plane waiting for the wind to calm down a bit before it can start spreading again.

The plane takes off down the grassy strip and swoops over the designated paddocks leaving a trail of about hailstone size bits of superphosphate.  You can also apply fertilizer with a ‘bulky’ or truck with a hopper at the back.

Here is the loader that fills both the airplane and the truck with the super stored in the superbins.

And here is the No. 1 superbin; you can wind back the corrugated iron roof in order to fill the bin and store the super.

Then the plane takes off and flies around and around spreading the fertilizer.  It doesn’t seem to take very long for him to finish one load – one day I was out doing nodder thistles and I swear it took him only 10 minutes – so they get very good at landing and taking off from small bumpy grass airstrips.



  1. I didn’t know that aerial top dressing was a technique developed in New Zealand. Do you know who invented it?

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