National Academies Press: OpenBook

Agricultural Operations on Airport Grounds (2022)

Chapter: Chapter 2 - Survey Responses

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Page 7
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Survey Responses." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Agricultural Operations on Airport Grounds. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26543.
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Page 7
Page 8
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Survey Responses." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Agricultural Operations on Airport Grounds. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26543.
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Page 8

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7   Airports Surveyed A survey questionnaire was developed by the study team with consultation of the project panel to gather information on agricultural operations at airports. The intent of the survey was to obtain general responses across a broad base of the nation’s airports regarding these types of operations on airport grounds. Airports were asked about land use for agricultural operations, motivating factors for initiating a program, types of crops, use of farmland leases, and manage- ment of agricultural programs including associated risk factors. Appendix D provides the survey instrument used and responses. The survey instrument was distributed to state aviation officials, aviation organizations, and an online aviation journal with a request to disseminate to airport members. Specific airports were not targeted to solicit a response; instead, a large geographically diverse set of airports was encouraged to respond on a voluntary basis so that the team could gather infor- mation on the prevalence of agricultural operations at airports and supplement the targeted questionnaire. The survey data contains responses from 283 airports, including 10 partial responses. Table 1 presents the number of airports by category. Both completed and partial responses were used for analytical interpretation of the results where applicable. Responses were received from airports of all sizes and categories, including primary, non-primary, general aviation, and private airports. The survey data set received by the study team included responses from airports representing seven FAA regions and 30 states and comprised a diverse sample of airport ownership struc- tures. Appendix C provides the detailed information of survey participants. Airports Interviewed The study team interviewed 12 airports of various sizes and geographic locations spanning 12 states and five FAA regions. The airports selected included large, medium, and small hubs as well as three non-hubs, a reliever category airport, and several general aviation facilities. The airports were selected for an in-depth interview to provide insight into effective or innovative practices for implementing agricultural operations on airport grounds. Most stakeholders who participated in the interviews were airport operators, airport property managers, airport farmland leasehold tenants, and administrators. Many provided supporting documentation, including farmland lease agreements, specialized program descriptions, and pictures. Appendix B provides a summary of airport interviews. C H A P T E R   2 Survey Responses

8 Agricultural Operations on Airport Grounds Summary of Common Themes from Respondents Airports of all sizes were found to accommodate agricultural operations at their facilities across all FAA regions. Supporting these types of leases is not a phenomenon located only at rural general aviation airports or predominately reserved for certain areas of the country. While a number of airports choose to avoid leasing farmland for a variety of reasons discussed in this report, many find that this type of land use supports the operation of the airport through increased revenues and decreased maintenance costs, among other benefits. During the study, common themes emerged surrounding agricultural operations on airport grounds, lease administration, and associated risk factors, including • Airports with agricultural land lease programs support a wide variety of crop types that are normally consistent with crops typical for geographical climates and soil types in their region. • Many airports acquire property to control land use for aircraft safety areas or to ensure com- patible development, and that land may be attractive to candidates for farmland leases. • Over 60% of survey respondents reported that their motivations for developing an agricul- tural land lease program were to reduce maintenance costs and generate revenues. • Over 26% of airports surveyed in this study reported agricultural lease terms of 3 years with the range from 1 year to 6 or more years. • Over 50% of survey respondents with agricultural land lease programs indicated that between 1 and 99 acres were leased for this purpose. For the high end of the range, almost 14% of respondents leased over 500 acres for agricultural land lease. • Of the airports responding to the survey question asking the number of agricultural land leases managed by the airport, the most common response (over 42%) was one lease with nearly 25% of survey respondents reporting no agricultural land leases. • Airports that accommodate agricultural uses often use lease provisions that address crop restrictions, safety procedures, special conditions, and cancellation if land is needed for airport purposes. • Challenges associated with managing agricultural land lease programs include risk factors such as wildlife attractants, environmental concerns, and operational safety and security. The findings of the survey responses and interviews are organized in the chapters that follow. Airport Category Number of Airports Large Hub 2 Medium Hub 0 Small Hub 8 Non-hub 28 Commercial Service 4 Reliever 12 General Aviation (NPIAS) 185 Non-NPIAS 20 Private 24 Table 1. Number of airports surveyed by category.

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The increasing need to use airport land for non-aeronautical revenue and decrease operating expenses may generate consideration of on-airport farming operations and agricultural leasing.

The TRB Airport Cooperative Research Program's ACRP Synthesis 117: Agricultural Operations on Airport Grounds compiles literature and practices at airports to initiate and manage agricultural operations on airport grounds.

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