Interseeding Tools Get Cover Crops Off to Faster Start

No-tillers can avoid the mad rush to get cover crops seeded after harvest by planting them into standing cash crops.

Pictured Above: HELPING OUT. The Sussex Conservation District in Georgetown, Del., purchased this Miller Nitro air seeder last year to help growers in the area afford interseeding their cover crops. They began interseeding into corn on July 30, 2015, and continued into soybeans until Oct. 15, 2015, seeding a variety of mixes that included radishes, triticale, clover, oats, hairy vetch, wheat and rye. Last year, the district interseeded just over 4,000 acres and have a goal of doubling that this year

One of the most common challenges no-tillers encounter with cover crops is at the very start — getting them seeded.

In the 2014-15 Cover Crop Survey conducted by Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education, cover crop establishment was the No. 1 challenge reported among 2,814 cover crop users, at 21%. Time and labor required for seeding and managing the cover crop came in third at 18%.

Those two challenges were also the top two reasons among nearly 700 survey takers for not using cover crops.

In some areas of the U.S., particularly in northern states, there may not be enough time to get cover crops seeded after harvest — especially if a no-tiller is hoping to achieve decent cover crop growth before winter.

Aerial seeding via an airplane or helicopter is an option, but establishment can be spotty.

Depending on a no-tiller’s goals, climate, row widths, cover crop species and even herbicide programs, interseeding covers — the practice of seeding them with a drill, spinner spreader, toolbar or sprayer into…

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Laura Barrera

Laura Barrera is the former managing editor of No-Till Farmer and Conservation Tillage Guide magazines. Prior to joining No-Till Farmer, she served as an assistant editor for a greenhouse publication. Barrera holds a B.A. in magazine journalism from Ball State University.

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