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Innovative Way to Seed Cover Crops on Time

Innovative Way to Seed Cover Crops on Time
Enterprising young farmer seeds cover crops into standing soybeans.

We've become accustomed over the past couple of years to seeing sprayers rigged up to seed cover crops into corn using drop tubes. The goal is to get the seed on in time. Several cover crops need to be seeded by mid-September, others by October 1. Cereal rye can be seeded early, but it can also be seeded as late as late October or early November and still produce a good crop.

Seeding cover crops: Clint Arnholt seeds on oats and radishes into standing soybeans using a sprayer equipped with a seeder modified for this purpose.

Clint Arnholt, Columbus, decided he wanted to get cover crops seeded earlier than in the past when he typically harvested first and then drilled them in. Often he used wheat so the later planting date didn't hurt. This year he was seeding cereal rye on fields going to soybeans and oats and radishes on fields going to soybeans next year. He wanted to get an earlier start.

Arnholt and a partner purchased a Valmar seeder, and removed the spray tank from his STS Hagie sprayer. Then they figured out how to mount the seeder where the tank once was. They ran the hoses so that seed would be delivered form each nozzle point on the boom. They added small metal deflectors to help spread out the seed. In corn, they used the long drops as well.

They used the hydraulics that powered the spray pump to power the seeder. "It took us a few days because we had never done it before, but now it won't be nearly as big a deal to switch back and forth," Clint says.

He was seeding oats and radishes into standing soybeans, starting to drop leaves, when we visited. He realized he might be sacrificing a small amount of soybean yield to sprayer tire tracks, but felt it was worth it.

"I believe in cover crops and holding nitrogen that's left, and with an 80 foot boom, there's not that many passes," he says. "The other option would be aerial seeding, but it's more expensive and you don't have as good of control as to whether you spray or in this case, seed, onto your neighbors. I just like the idea of doing it with ground equipment. This seems to work."

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