Iowa DOT News Release

Aerial seeding and fertilizing set to begin along Iowa's highways

Posted on: February 24, 2009

AMES, Iowa – Feb. 24, 2009 – Aviation contractors hired by the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) will be performing aerial seeding and fertilizing along the state's highways as soon as weather permits.

This method of roadside erosion control has been used by the Iowa DOT for many years because of its cost-saving benefits, ability to cover vast areas and success rate. Seed is best applied in the late winter months so that it will germinate in the spring.

The following aerial seeding projects should be completed in March.

·         Jefferson County – U.S. 34, from just west of Filbert Avenue east to near Osage Road, as part of the Fairfield bypass

·         Osceola County – U.S. 60, from north of 120th Street north to the Minnesota state line, as part of the Bigelow bypass

You can expect to see the following.

  • Flights are conducted during calm periods with winds 10 mph or less, and other suitable weather conditions.
  • Ground crews supporting the airplanes will be in motor vehicles with amber lights parked along the roadside at the start and finish of each project area. These vehicles provide a visual, land-based marker to denote the boundaries of the project.
  • Seed and fertilizer products will be broadcast over the roadsides from the planes. The seed is lightweight and tan in color. The fertilizer is in a granular form and white-colored.
  • Operations may continue throughout the daylight hours, if conditions permit.
  • Temporary road signs will be posted in the project areas denoting aerial flights are underway.
  • Iowa DOT inspectors in state vehicles will be in the area during application.
  • Various small aircraft models may be used. The most common model is an Ag-Cat turboprop biplane, typically painted yellow. These planes are equipped with hoppers to disperse the materials and normally carry only the pilot.
  • Planes fly 30 to 100 feet above the ground, and travel at speeds ranging from 60 to 100 mph.
  • Aircraft will make several passes over the same area during the application process. The planes will take off and land periodically to load materials. Their landing sites may include local airports, area landing strips, and county roads and state highways with low traffic volumes. Ground crews, including flaggers, will provide traffic control during the landings and takeoffs. The planes will be on the ground for only brief periods of time.

For more information on the Iowa DOT's statewide aerial erosion control projects, contact Mark Masteller at 515-239-1424 or


Iowa highway in the evening