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February 21, 2013 Hatuma prioritises pilot safety

A fertiliser company has partnered with the top dressing industry to improve pilot safety nationwide and carried out a set of trials today.

Hatuma, a Hawke’s Bay fertiliser and lime company is working with aviation companies in Oamaru, Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay to carry out new safety trials which could help save pilots lives.

The trials test the jettison capability of Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate and require the pilots to release their load of fertiliser immediately after take-off.

Industry standard requires that a top dressing pilot should be able to dump 80 per cent of their load within 5 seconds.

Hatuma Marketing Manager, Aaron Topp, says in such a high risk activity it’s important that pilots can release their load quickly if they run into trouble.

“Pilot safety is paramount, and while we have successfully worked alongside the top dressing industry for fifty years, there has been a recent move by farmers to further improve fertiliser efficiency and safety. We want to ensure our dicalcic phosphate is the very best quality so it flows well out of the plane’s hopper.”

Pilots around the country are welcoming the safety trials. Hawke’s Bay pilot Josh Calder does up to 100 take offs and landings each day and says he has never had any safety issues when he uses Hatuma’s dicalcic phosphate because it releases well from the hopper.

“A pilot’s safety should always come first. The fertiliser has to flow properly and if it doesn’t we put our lives at risk. I have sent fertilisers back in the past because it was poor quality and unsafe to spread, I wasn’t prepared to take any risks with it.”

“We rely on the fertiliser companies to get it right. It needs to jettison well if we need it to so we feel safe. You are never going to alleviate all risks when you are a top dressing pilot, but if we can minimise them, we can feel assured.”

Mr Calder says it’s fantastic that a fertiliser company is prioritising safety and putting resources into testing products.

“It’s the first time a fertiliser company has worked with us to ensure we feel safe while using its product.”

Oamaru Pilot, Greg Bayliss, says he welcomed the safety testing he completed with Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate in November 2012 and hopes more fertiliser companies will follow suit.

“We really appreciate Hatuma getting behind the safety trials because it shows they care. They’re not just churning out product and spreading it.”

“I have been a topdressing pilot for 30 years and I have been in some dangerous situations. If you can’t get rid of your load fast enough you could be in serious trouble.”

However, Mr Bayliss says it’s not just the fertiliser company that has to be vigilant, farmers also carry some responsibility as the product needs to be stored properly so it doesn’t get wet prior to being spread.

Hawke’s Bay farmer and aviation enthusiast, Gary Peddle purchases 300 tonne of Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate each year to spread on his farm. He has a large fertiliser bin and says it’s very important to store the products well.

“The cost of fertiliser is huge for a farmer. I spend about $70,000 each year on fertiliser so I don’t want to jeopardise the quality of the product and compromise pilot safety.”

“I have put a lot of time into ensuring we have a facility that keeps the fertiliser dry, flyable and safe.”

Mr Topp says farmers are now looking at applying their nutrients in one safe and cost effective application.

“We have worked really hard to ensure our products are always safe and the very best quality, for both the pilot and farmer’s peace of mind.”

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