Curtiss biplanes are used to dust cotton fields to control boll weevils.
By the early 1900s boll weevils had become a scourge to American cotton fields. The boll weevil is a perfect cotton killing machine. Boll weevils left little standing in their path and disrupted entire local economies throughout the South. Better technology was badly needed to combat the boll weevil, a resilient pest whose path of destruction extended across the Cotton Belt. Approximately 614,000 square miles had been infested by the boll weevil by the end of 1922, leaving only 91,000 square miles of cotton-producing territory not infested.
After the successful McCook Field experimental crop dusting flight, many more crop dusting tests were conducted at the USDA’s Delta Lab in Tallulah, Louisiana. They conducted hundreds of dusting tests starting in 1922 at Scott Field, just outside of Tallulah. The trials helped researchers fine-tune more effective insecticide mixes and improve ways of storing and releasing them.
According to a 1929 report from the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, aerial crop dusting of calcium arsenate increased cotton yields an average of 117 pounds per acre from the average untreated yield of 780 pounds per acre, a 15% increase in yield.