An annual aerial insecticide spraying program is a complex project because of the number of steps that have to be done in a specific order.
Each morning, as soon as the sun rises (around 4 a.m.), an aerial monitor takes off aboard a control plane and heads out for the targeted spray blocks. As soon as weather conditions are great (low winds and high relative humidity), he orders the loading and the take-off of the spray planes. It is important to do the aerial sprays of biological insecticide when there are no winds, in the early morning and evening. Otherwise, the product will not come down, but will float in the air and dissipate into the environment.
Although SOPFIM’s operation plans is quite rigorous, a program of environmental monitoring is implemented from the very beginning of the operations. This program, in accordance with SOPFIM’S environmental policy, is designed to ensure the compliance of operations with existing regulations, the environmental management system, as well as SOPFIM’s internal rules and procedures. As part of carrying out this program, all centres of operations and all field laboratories are inspected. Inspections are also performed at different times throughout the operations themselves.
The ultimate goal of Btk spray programs is to keep the forest alive during an epidemic. Accordingly, the annual protection target established by government authorities is to preserve at least 50% of the new foliage produced by trees under attack. The Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources considers a program to be a success when this target has been achieved on at least 70% of the forest areas treated.
Usually, planes return to the airport around 6:30 a.m. Checks are then performed on the equipment, and every spray path recorded by the GPS of planes is viewed on computer.
Depending on the weather, a second spray session can be run in the evening, between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. The same procedure as described previously is followed. Usually, five days after the first application, a second application of the product is required to control high populations in a particular block. Depending on the weather, a protection program usually runs for a month.