By Patrick D. Bonin
BRANCH, LA. – Out at Frugé Aquafarms, we use a wide variety of transportation options to maintain and harvest our crawfish and rice crops.
On any given day, a multitude of work is accomplished by lots of different employees in pickup trucks, passenger cars, four-wheelers, 18-wheelers, tractors, refrigerated delivery trucks, combines, crawfish boats, pirogues, and even… an airplane!
An airplane? To help grow amazing mudbugs? Really?
Yep, but it’s not exactly our plane. It’s a crop duster, and it belongs to Richard’s Flying Service in Rayne, La. (But we do have a landing strip on site that the pilots use to land and take off to service our property, as well as the surrounding area.)
Mark Frugé, co-owner of Frugé Aquafarms with his brother Mike, explained how there came to be a landing strip located right on farm property.
“My dad had a crop dusting service in the early 70’s until the late 80’s,” he said. “After that we maintained the strip and then leased it to the current tenants.”
With thousands of acres to cover, aerial applications are a cost-effective, time-efficient way to do business here on the farm.
“We use the crop duster for chemical and fertilizer application for the rice crop, and fertilizer application on the rice stubble in the fall to benefit the crawfish crop,” he said.
Generally speaking, the crop duster sprays two applications of pesticide, herbicide or fungicide on the rice crop, depending on what individual fields need, as well as two or three applications of fertilizer. The mixture is applied based on 10-gallons of water volume per acre.
The rice is harvested in late summer, generating the necessary stubble that will feed the emerging crawfish later in the fall and provide for another bumper mudbug crop.
“Fertilizing the rice stubble maximizes the plant biomass and provides more food for the crawfish to eat during the growing season,” Mark explained. “The more quality food available, the more the crawfish will grow.”
So the next time you sit down to an awesome crawfish etouffee, remember how important that crop duster is to our operation here on the farm. Your fluffy rice and awesome mudbugs might not be the same without our pilots in the sky!