The plane crashed about 6:30 a.m. into the muddy field near the town of Nicolaus and Highway 70.
The single-engine airplane lifted off with about 1,000 pounds of zinc fertilizer. Once the aircraft arrived at the field, the pilot made several passes in which he dropped the supplement.
However, at some point, he began to start to line up passes over the field and then turn away, said Sutter County Undersheriff Jeff Pierce. That could indicate satellite problems in lining up at the exact spot to make the pass, said Pierce.
"Then, as he was making this turn, he basically flew it right into the ground," said Pierce. "We don't have a clue as to what occurred. According to witnesses, the engine sounded fine."
The pilot died on impact.
Photo caption: A crop duster sits crashed in a field in Sutter County Monday morning. Photo by Randy Penchfirstname.lastname@example.org