Crop dusters remain vital to Arizona farming

They fly low, and they fly fast, skimming over farmland like they've been doing it for over 100 years now. Crop dusters now known as aerial applicators, are still doing a brisk but risky business.

"We're doing 140-145 across the field, you have to keep your eyes out in front of you the whole time," said Matt Carranza.

Matt and his father Chris own and run Crop First Aviation using aircraft built just for crop dusting. They own two planes and even have their own airstrip.

"Everything we do can be seen and realized by the grower, and eventually at the store," said Chris Carranza.

"Some people have referred to us as flying farmers, and that really is what it's like," said Matt.

There is a lot of high-tech farm equipment out there, but aerial applicators are still in high demand. Why is that? It turns out when farmers need something done in a hurry to save their crop; the planes can get the job done in just hours. They drop seed, pesticides, and fertilizers. The pair even uses GPS in the planes to make sure they cover the entire field.

It is dangerous flying at up to 140 miles per hour just 15 feet above the ground. If something goes wrong, there is not a lot of time to recover. But sometimes a makeshift runway isn't enough. Less than two years ago in Yuma, a pilot crashed and died.

Matt and Chris say they've never had a major incident, they maintain their own planes and keep everything in top condition, just the way they like to leave their crops.

"Even though I've been doing it a long time, I still enjoy the work. It feels like it is accomplishing something by providing food for people and taking care of people's crops," he said.

Online: Crop First Aviation -