If you live in northeast Indiana you may have heard about a tool that can band fertilizer and seed cover crops at the same time. If you live elsewhere, you may hear about it soon. Different machinery companies are experimenting with the concept. Salford has a unit that is running in fields in Allen County this fall, and it's commercially available.
"The Allen County Soil and Water Conservation District purchased the tool and makes it available to farmers so they can try the concept on their farm," says Greg Lake, district employee and also a farmer himself.
Allen County SWCD was able to purchase the tool through a grant from the Great Lakes Commission.
"Our goal is to get enough plots and a few fields planted this fall so that farmers can get a feel for where a tool like this might fit," Lake says. "We didn't get it as soon as we wanted, but we still got cover seeded with it and fertilizer applied under the surface on a few farms. We'll be ready for next year."
The district owns a tractor, and provides the tractor, tool and driver for a fee per acre that is far less than what a farmer would pay if he was covering all the cost of the machine. The goal is to get the concept out there, Lake says. The district has bought state-of-the-art tools for conservation tillage systems over the past three decades, and helped introduce concepts to the area.
"When you first tell farmers you would like them to try a tool that places fertilizer under the soil, they are hesitant," he says. "Many are used to spreading it on top with a spreader which is fast and uses much less fuel.
"However, when you tell them they could get cover crops seeded on the same pass, many of them become interested. That's the approach we're taking. "