Helicopters prepare for application season

Members of The Heli Team give a demonstration at Integrated Seed Solutions near Flanagan recently.

JACKSONVILLE, Illinois – Those small airplanes buzzing the farm fields of Central Illinois won’t be the only aircraft in the sky this crop-dusting season.

The Heli Team, based in Jacksonville, Illinois, is the exclusive aerial applicator for Integrated Seed Solutions of Flanagan and will be spraying several acres of crops in Central Illinois during the coming days and weeks.

“We have 12 helicopters based out of Jacksonville,” explained The Heli Team owner Chris Bull.

Pretty much all of Illinois is covered by the company as they work selectively with clients on an exclusive basis. The Heli Team has 18 total helicopters, 12 of which are spraying in Illinois this summer. The number of acres covered varies each year.

“Each aircraft is responsible for anywhere between 80 to 120,000 acres a season depending on the size of the aircraft.”

Helicopter aerial application of fungicide and insecticide is not an entirely new concept. It is becoming increasingly popular as disease pressure increases in-season. Bull feels crop penetration is significantly better with this method.

“We are producing better results than a plane,” said Bull.

Demonstrations were given by members of The Heli Team during a recent summer meeting hosted by Integrated Seed Solutions just west of Flanagan. They displayed two helicopter sprayers plus nurse tanks and trailers. Water was sprayed on a couple of nearby fields to show farmers what the application process looks like.

Bull has had the business since 2012 and it all started based on a couple of farmers who weren’t happy with their current application methods. Bull and his company worked with them and the business grew from there.

The Heli Team has another business based out of Orlando, Florida, with charter flights and government level work. They also fight fires with helicopters.

“People can call us up and say hey I want to fly from Orlando to Naples,” Bull explained. “We give them a price and they say yes or no.”

For more on the company’s services, visit www.theheliteam.com.

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