Low flying plane was seeding fields by air

By Joe Beck

The sight of a plane flying low in the air over Shenandoah County last week rattled some nerves, but it turned out there was no reason for anyone to worry.

The plane was seeding rye and barley as cover crops for existing corn and soybean fields. Officials with the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office reported numerous phone calls and more than 20 posts on the department’s Facebook page inquiring or commenting about the plane.

Joedy G. Sheets, vice president of retail sales for Valley Fertilizer & Chemical Co. Inc. in Mount Jackson, said the firm was one of several that organized the seeding. Sheets estimated Valley Fertilizer supervised the seeding of roughly 700 acres from the air.

Sheets said Valley Fertilizer also fielded inquiries about the plane while it was making its rounds for a day or two early last week. No more aerial seedings are planned for this year, Sheets said.

Sheets said aerial seeding, begun “a couple of years ago,” is not something that’s “done a whole lot” in this part of the country.

“It was just one airplane,” Sheets said. “We always get calls from people wondering what’s going on. We called the New Market, Mount Jackson police and the Sheriff’s Office, but people don’t understand. A lot of the public, they see a plane, and they’re concerned and I understand that.”

Sheets and Casey McClung, assistant store manager for the Rockingham Cooperative in Woodstock, said the seeding is conducted as part of a government program that shares the cost of the seeding operation with farmers if it is completed by a certain date in the fall.

“It’s a good stewardship thing for the land to keep erosion down,” McClung said.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com