This is the longest period of wet and windy weather I can ever remember in my 47 years in aviation. It has been extremely busy for us aerial operators trying to keep up with the huge increase in the tonnage of nitrogenous fertilisers that farmers are applying, and has really put the pressure on us, especially from new clients that have traditionally used other means to apply their fertiliser.
In a lot of cases it has simply been too wet, and so a lot of farmers are a first-time user and are therefore not on ‘the list’. This year we are running about 5-600 tonnes behind every week while still managing to apply about 100 tonnes a day, such is the demand.
A while back I had a farmer ring me late on a Sunday evening, asking me to apply some nitrogen “tomorrow,” as his cows had nothing to eat, and he was on once a day.
I explained the list and the fact we had, at that stage, 800 tonnes booked ahead, and these were regular clients that relied on us getting their fertiliser on, on time. His reply was to state that as “they had nothing to eat anyway he may as well go shoot the bloody cows in the morning”, with a mumble about doing the same to himself.
I immediately picked up on this and said “Whoa there, hang on a bit, I am out your way tomorrow, ring me at 10am.” The farmer we were scheduled at was a regular client, with a large fertiliser order, and a very good client.
I boldly tackled the subject at hand and recounted my phone conversation. Without hesitating this farmer said to let one truck and trailer unit go and help this poor individual out, which we did, much to the consternation of neighbouring farmers that were also booked.
What to do indeed? The desperate farmer in question either tripped or collapsed onto his knees as he approached the helicopter, tears in his eyes, to thank me for getting his nitrogen on.
It still affects me emotionally every time I think of the event, as this poor guy must have been in a very fragile state. The hero here is the farmer that instantly sensed the situation and agreed to let his slot go to another farmer.
Helps to share it
In the meantime we are keeping an eye on the situation, and are in touch with this guy to talk over his seemingly insurmountable problems. It’s not that bad if you can share it with others, especially someone that may be in a similar situation.
His other fear was that because he was an honourable farmer, and on once a day with bugger-all income, he wouldn’t be able to pay. I put that to rest straight away – as he is a farmer, and when things come right – she’ll be right.
I have been in that situation myself years ago when I couldn’t immediately pay for services, and all of my suppliers let me continue in business, and yes I paid every one of them, and no, not one charged interest.
That is what we in the farming world do. I tell you this harrowing story to ask that you all keep an eye on your neighbour out there because things are tough at the moment due to this extremely wet spring.
Please take the time to grab a couple of cold ones and call in and see the neighbours, and if it is bad for you too, let them know they are not the only ones.
In the meantime please keep taking down those dangerous wires that can easily kill your local ag- pilot.