The people selling Herd seeders and those selling ATVs at the 2013 Louisville Farm Machinery Show sure knew how to get the attention of farmers interested in cover crops. Mount a seeder or two on the back and one on the front and with all the talk about cover crops these days, someone was sure to stop quickly to check it out.
Our camera caught an ATV equipped with seeders both front and behind. The small spinning delivery seeders have been popular for years for frost seeding clover into wheat or into pasture to upgrade it, but now they're finding new life as one of the ways to sow cover crop seed, especially after soybean harvest. Once the seed is spread, it can be worked in lightly if you prefer with something like a Phoenix harrow or an Aer-Way machine.
This particular set-up featuring a seeder on the front and back was actually just set up to catch attention. However, the spokesperson at the exhibit said you could actually equip an ATV that way if you wanted to. What more people are doing, he says, is pulling a boom behind an ATV, with individual Herd seeders spaced at intervals along the boom, say 15 to 20 feet apart. The goal is to space them so that all areas will be covered uniformly with cover crop seed.
One advantage to a seeder on an ATV is that it can make for a quick application. More people are finding that timing is critical on seeding cover crops, especially radishes and annual ryegrass. Cereal rye is the primary cover that is more forgiving on planting date.
If someone can run over the field and seed it immediately after harvest, there's a better chance you will get cover crops off to a fast start in the fall. The sooner crops like annual ryegrass are seeded, the better, most specialists say.