Air Care Brings Rye from the Sky


Preparing the Next Bag of Rye Seed


Prowers County residents may be wondering why there is a spray plane in the air at this time of the season.  Danny Tinnes from Air Care is laying down rye grass seed over various cornfields in the area, providing a quick growing season for the hardy grass.  His brother Monty says the land has to be irrigated once the seed is down, but he’s heard reports that farmers are getting a six inch growth in as little as two weeks. 

Monty Tinnes said cattle will graze on the rye grass, providing a low cost alternative to hay at current prices.  He added, “The fields get fertilized from the herds, and the top most rye root system gets disked back into the ground for additional nutrients.  Tinnes said the ground operation is a quick process, as aviation gas is too expensive to have an airplane on the ground idling for too long.  The seed is delivered in six foot tall, half ton sacks.  They’re hoisted upright by their straps by a forklift and the bag is opened over a portable conveyer belt which sends the seed to an elevated hopper.  Once the plane is on the ground, the hopper is rolled out to the aircraft and the seed is loaded, a process that takes less than 15 minutes.  The process was taking place on the edge of the tarmac at the Lamar airport.  Danny Tinnes said when liquid loads are transferred, such as pesticides; the process takes place on their private property.  Not much seed is spilled and what is will be swept up and reloaded on the conveyer belt. 

Pilot Danny Tinnes said he’s flying a little higher than he does for a liquid application, about 20 feet instead of ten.  He added it takes only about 15 minutes to spread the seed over the selected acreage.  Monty said there isn’t much of a window open on the calendar for this growing season, about two more weeks or so.  He was wondering what type of uses the seed bags could be put to.  Hung from their straps, they look like a punching bag for the Jolly Green Giant.  The material is similar to, but a lot tighter knit and of a stronger weave than store-bought blue tarp.  Tinnes said they may consider this type of operation for longer periods in the future if the idea of a rye crop catches on among area farmers and ranchers.  

By Russ Baldwin


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