Frost Prevention and Mitigation Solutions
Our friendly logistics experts can put a plan together for you quickly and get helicopters ready to fly in a hurry. Often times, frost can threaten with little notice and you need a team with enough assets to react quickly. Flex Air has extensive experience with planning and executing radiation frost prevention operations for even the largest farming operation in North America. We contract pilots that are experienced in day or night frost prevention missions and our staff is well versed in planning and organizing frost mitigation strategies for every size farm, orchard, or vineyard.
Visible frost occurs when atmospheric moisture freezes and forms small crystals on plants and other surfaces. Dew forms when the air temperature drops below the dew point temperature. If temperatures continue dropping on cold nights, this dew may freeze and form frost by sunrise. If the air temperature is below the freezing point (32 degrees) ice crystals rather than dew forms and the frost is called white frost. The temperature at which this occurs is referred to as the frost point. When the dew point temperature is below the freezing temperature of the air, neither frost or dew form. Such a condition is referred to as a black frost. The development of frost is dependent upon the dew point or frostpoint of the air and many farmers have to face two kinds of frost, and freezes, during the colder months of the season.
Advection frost occurs due to an invasion of a large, very cold air mass from Arctic or Canadian regions and generally stops happening before fields are planted or orchards start to bud. This event is also commonly called an advective or wind borne freeze. Wind speeds during an advective freeze are usually in excess of 5 mph. Clouds are commonly present during much or all of the event and air is usually quite dry with low dew points. Freeze protection systems are usually of limited value during this type of severe freeze.
Radiation frost occurs when clear, low-wind conditions allow heat to escape from the ground surface and into the upper atmosphere, dropping the local temperature. Radiation frost frequently has a warmer layer of air above the surface (called an inversion layer) and this is a distinct saving grace. If a strong inversion forms, temperatures aloft (usually up to 100 to 200 feet) may become ten degrees (or more) higher than surface temperatures.
This inversion layer can be tapped by helicopter rotor downwash to help prevent freezing temperatures near the ground. Circulating air that is significantly warmer downwards into your crop can save yields when an unexpected radiation frost hits out of nowhere.
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Traditional frost prevention methods include fire barrels and ground fans, which can be used in tandem with helicopters to help increase the temperature at ground level. Whether used alone or with other frost mitigation methods, helicopters have the unique ability to redirect warm air from inversion layers as high as 200 feet, or more, above your crops. For many farmers, this can save tens of thousands of dollars in crop yield.
Not all helicopter frost prevention plans are created equal, however. Experience makes a huge difference in potential outcomes. Every spring (and fall for those early surprise frosts) we have helicopter assets ready around the country in order to move quickly to help our clients. For larger farms, orchards, and vineyards, we have the ability to mobilize helicopters from different areas to converge on the jobsite with multiple aircraft... And we can do it quickly. This is a big reason why so many businesses trust us year after year.
Have questions about the upcoming frost season? Ask one of our helicopter experts today.