Demand for crop dusting is surging in parts of the U.S., largely because of new products to fight late-season diseases and pests.
The Federal Aviation Administration reports that the number of
hours flown by crop dusters climbed 29 percent between 2003 and
2007, to more than 1.4 million.
The surge in demand is mainly in the Midwest and tied closely to
the region's hallmark crops of corn and soybeans.
In Iowa, there are now about 200 crop dusters compared to a low
of 40 in the 1990s. The number of pilots has doubled in Illinois to
330 and climbed from 55 to 78 in Wisconsin since 2006.
Fear that diseases could spread to the Upper Midwest are
prompting some producers to apply chemicals as a precaution.