The National Academies

ACRP Synthesis 11-03/Topic S10-17 [Active (Synthesis)]

Agricultural Operations on Airport Grounds
[ ACRP 11-03 (Synthesis of Information Related to Airport Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $45,000
Authorization to Begin Work: 10/23/2019 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Marci A. Greenberger
Research Agency: AirportAdmin LLC
Principal Investigator: Shaun Germolus
Effective Date: 10/1/2020
Fiscal Year: 2020

Final Scope

With increasing needs for non-aeronautical revenue and need to decrease operating costs (e.g., grass management), airports require additional knowledge and information in one location on which to make decisions about on-airport farming operations and agricultural leasing. Airport sponsors must consider agricultural operations in light of the risk to aviation safety from potential for attracting hazardous wildlife. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not recommend establishing wildlife attractants (including agricultural cultivation of crops and grains) within five (5) miles of an airport. Federal regulations, however, include provisions for airport operators to use the airport property for cultivation of crops while following specified guidelines found in FAA AC 150/5200-33C, Wildlife Hazard Attractants On or Near Airports.


It is important to understand key drivers that motivate airport sponsors and operators to lease property for agricultural operations. In addition, it is equally important to understand the regulatory and administrative background that affect how agricultural operations interact and are managed with aviation safety and the types of lease language used. 


The objective of this synthesis is to compile literature and practices at airports in initiating and managing agricultural operations on airport grounds.  The audience for this research is airport sponsors and operators that balance potential revenues with aviation safety and security concerns from on-airport farming.


Research will compile the following literature and experience in a concise report:

·        Basic data and prevalence of agricultural leases on airports by geographic region and airport size. Types of crops found on airport leased grounds and acreage farmed, monetary return (i.e., lease revenue compared to reduction in maintenance cost) to the airport.

·        Key drivers motivating airport sponsors to consider ag leases.

·        Annotated list of existing general guidance (federal, state, and local FAA Advisory Circulars) that pertains to airport requirements necessary to accommodate agriculture operations.

·        Summary of internal and external considerations for implementing and managing the leasing process

·        How airports manage secondary uses to agriculture that may also affect aviation (e.g., hunting, high-hazard species attractants)

·        Procedures, experiences and lessons learned (contracting, operations, maintenance) that airports undertake to manage aviation safety for ongoing agricultural operations

·        Other issues that airport sponsors and operators face and work-arounds when managing operational effects of agricultural leases.

·        Gaps for further research.


To accomplish this synthesis, the following tasks are envisioned

·        Conduct literature review

·        Identify and interview a diverse group airport operators that have leased or are leasing the airport property for farming operations and obtain specific information.  Consider geographic, airport NPIAS classification, and types of crops when selecting interview candidates.

·        Summarize the information.

·        Describe case examples that highlight effective practices or special issues effectively managed.

·        Provide appendix materials that display any helpful documents/checklists found during data collection (e.g., leases, checklists found or generated during data collection, etc.).



Partial Information Sources


FAA AC 150/5200-33C, Wildlife Hazard Attractants On or Near Airports. https://www.faa.gov/airports/resources/advisory_circulars/index.cfm/go/document.current/documentNumber/150_5200-33


A Study to Determine if the Biofuel Crop Camelina is a Wildlife Attractant (Phase II). [Project].  North Carolina Department of Transportation. Start date: 1 Aug. 2017.



Iglay, R. B., Buckingham, B. N., Seamans, T. W., Martin, J. A., Blackwell, B. F., Belant, J. L., & DeVault, T. L. (2017). Bird use of grain fields and implications for habitat management at airports. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 242, 34-42. doi:10.1016/j.agee.2017.03.022



ACRP Report 32, Guidebook for Addressing Aircraft/Wildlife Hazards at General Aviation Airports. http://www.trb.org/Publications/Blurbs/163690.aspx


ACRP Synthesis 52, Habitat Management to Deter Wildlife at Airports.  http://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/170766.aspx


ACRP Report 27, Enhancing Airport Land Use Compatibility – Volume1: Land Use Fundamentals and Implementation Resources. http://www.trb.org/Publications/Blurbs/163344.aspx  


ACRP Report 27, Enhancing Airport Land Use Compatibility – Volume 2: Land Use Survey and Case Study Summaries. http://www.trb.org/Publications/Blurbs/163345.aspx


AirTAP Agricultural Aircraft Operations on Municipal Airports, University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies.  http://www.airtap.umn.edu/publications/factsheets/toolkit/documents/agriculturalaircraft.pdf


DeVault, Travis, M. Begier, J. Belant, B. Blackwell, Rethinking Airport Land-cover Paradigms:  Agriculture, Grass and Wildlife Hazards.  USDA 2013.  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/285666695_Rethinking_airport_land-cover_paradigms_Agriculture_grass_and_wildlife_hazards


Topic Panel
Tea Schook, Denver International Airport (CO)
Stephanie Ward, Mead & Hunt Inc.
Jim Young, Jackson County Airport (TN)
Brett Godown, Salinas Municipal Airport (CA)
Cindy Schreiber-Beck, Tri-State Aviation, Inc.
John Weller, FAA
Michael Beiger, USDA

Shaun Germolus
AirportAdmin LLC

TRB Staff
Marci A. Greenberger

Demisha Williams

First Meeting: 8/18/2020, 11:30a EDT via Zoom
Teleconference: 10/5/2020, 1p EDT via Zoom
Workplan Delivered: 10/16/2020
Comments Due (Email): 10/23/2020
Draft Report Delivered: 02/15/2021
Second Panel Meeting: 03/01/2021, 11a EDT via Zoom


To create a link to this page, use this URL: http://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=4910