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Home > Ag Chemicals & Fertilizers > Pesticides > Reporting Pesticide Complaints > Aerial Pesticide Application

Aerial Pesticide Application


Every year, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) receives many calls about aerial applications of pesticides. In some parts of the state, aerial applications have become a controversial issue, particularly where there is residential or recreational development in agricultural areas. In some of these areas, production of crops not previously grown (potatoes, for example) has caused a dramatic increase in the number of these applications, and a corresponding increase in citizen concern. The following information addresses the most frequently asked questions and tells you where to call if you need additional help.

Are aerial applications legal?

Yes, providing the following conditions are met:

  • The pesticide is registered by both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and by the MDA;
  • The pesticide label does not prohibit aerial application;
  • The pilot is licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the MDA to aerially apply agricultural pesticides;
  • The pilot follows all directions on the pesticide label;
  • The pilot operates the aircraft in a manner which does not create a hazard to persons or property.

What about noise?

Neither the FAA or the MDA regulates noise issues associated with aerial applications. Check with your local government to see if there are noise ordinances in your area.

Are the planes allowed to fly low?

Yes. FAA regulations allow aerial applicators to fly low while they are actually spraying, and during approaches, departures, and turn-arounds, provided they do not create a hazard to persons or property. Low flying over application sites is actually desirable, because it greatly reduces the chance the spray will move off-target.

What about low flying over congested areas?

FAA regulations allow low flying over congested areas, but prior written approval must be obtained from the local governing body, and prior notice given to the public. This type of activity is usually associated with mosquito control.

Where should I call if I have questions or concerns about aerial application of pesticides?

If you are concerned about the unsafe operation of an aircraft, you should contact the FAA at 612-713-4211. Provide the exact date, time, and location of the incident, as well as the “N” number on the tail of the aircraft, if possible. This information is needed to identify the pilot. If you believe you or your property were exposed to drift from an aerial application, you should contact the Minnesota Duty Officer at 1-800-422-0798. Again, be prepared to provide the date, time, and location of the incident, as well as the “N” number on the tail of the aircraft, if possible.

MDA Contact

Pesticide & Fertilizer Management Division
651-201-6333