Six Mid-South ag pilots were recently recognized for exemplary environmental stewardship. Selected pilots were ranked highest among their peers based on criteria established through the Applicators Conserving the Environment Pilot Program.

The pilots selected for recognition include Kelly Peeler of Producers Flying in Yazoo City, Miss., Casey Novak of Ferriday Flying Service in Ferriday, La., Paul Riddell of A&L Farm Services in Helena, Ark., Matthew Brignac of Brignac Flying Services in Columbus, Miss., Gary Couey of Planters Flying Service in James Crossing, Miss., and Glenn Holloway Jr. of Holloway Air Service in Drew, Miss.

Mark Kimmel, former president of the Mississippi Agricultural Aviation Association and Itta Bena, Miss.-based ag pilot, said out that “many pilots take additional, voluntary steps to ensure that they have no environmental impact.

“The Applicators Conserving the Environment Pilot Program now affords us the opportunity to identify the best pilots among us in their efforts to protect our natural resources,” Kimmel said.

The A.C.E. Pilot Program was developed to recognize top environmental stewards in the ag aviation industry and to provide incentives to other pilots to become better stewards.

All licensed aerial applicators in Mississippi who were members of the Mississippi Agricultural Aviation Association in 2010 and had no proven drift violations within the past 24 months were eligible to participate in the A.C.E. Pilot Program. Each participant completed a questionnaire that documented their experience, track record and voluntary environmental stewardship efforts.

Karl Holcomb, president of the Mississippi Agricultural Aviation Association, presented each A.C.E. Pilot with a plaque and a cash award for $1,500 at the recent Mississippi Agricultural Aviation Association’s annual meeting in Bay Saint Louis, Miss. Each pilot will also receive a sign for their place of business, recognizing their achievement.

Organizations involved in developing, administering and validating the program included CropLife America, Delta Council, Delta F.A.R.M., Mississippi Agricultural Aviation Association, Mississippi Ag Industry Council, Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, Monsanto, Southern Crop Protection Association, Syngenta, USDA Agricultural Research Service and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.