Research: When to plan for aerial seeding
The research will review "cooperative" aerial seeding, which is already used by some states – including Iowa and Indiana – to aggregate acres to be seeded across a few counties. This process is reducing producers' individual costs for seed and aerial application.
Cooperative aerial seeding programs are often coordinated by local agriculture professionals, MSU said.
Following this example, the recently funded Northeast Michigan Aerial Cover Crop Seeding Demonstrations project will use aerial overseeding to establish cereal rye in 400 acres of corn and soybeans prior to harvest in 2015. This acreage will be managed as research and demonstration sites.
Cooperative aerial seeding programs can address producers' difficulty in getting cover crops seeded in an appropriate timeframe, as traditional seeding equipment is frequently precluded by harvest operations. Traditional methods can push cover crop seeding into November and, therefore, poor late-season field conditions.
Despite seeding challenges, cover crops have potential to improve soil health, MSU said. According to a 2012 survey conducted by North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, corn and soybeans in drought conditions planted after cover crops yielded 10.6% more, on average, than fields without covers.
Research will be conducted with assistance from Michigan State University Extension Presque Isle County, in partnership with three Michigan Conservation Districts (Montmorency, Presque Isle and Alpena counties), the Natural Resource Conservation Service and local field crop producers.
Funding is provided by the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Partnership Grant program. SARE is supported by the USDA and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture.
Thinking about a cover crop? Start with developing a plan. Download the FREE Cover Crops: Best Management Practices report today, and get the information you need to tailor a cover crop program to your needs.