Friday, September 26, 2014

Aerial Applications in Central NJ - seeding winter cover crop (2 of 2)

I conclude this short series (See articles I posted on September 22 and September 24 about aerial applications of winter cover crop seeds in Central NJ.

Please spend some time to look at this great slide show of seeding operations from NJ dot com (9/18/14). Allow a few minutes to view the 44 photos in the slide show.

Residents near the farms that were seeded were notified prior to the seeding operations which began the afternoon of September 16 and were completed on September 18. See this September 18th article from the Hunterdon Democrat for more information.

Christian Bench, a Soil Conservation Technician with the  US Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service in Pittstown NJ provides some additional information about the seeding operation. He gave me more information about the benefits of cover cropping:

Some cover cropping benefits are seen right away including soil erosion protection. Other benefits such as increased water infiltration, nutrient scavenging, increased soil microbe activity and increased soil organic matter will be seen only after several years of cover cropping on the same fields. This is why we are doing this for 3 consecutive years on the same fields.

Bench speaks to the advantages of using aircraft to disperse the winter seed cover over no-till drilling methods:

While aerially seeding is not the only way to plant a cover crop it is the only way to seed into standing crops that have not been harvested yet. No-till drilling cover crop species after the cash crop is harvested is a very effective way of seeding but as it gets later in the year the farmer is limited to what species he/she can plant. Aerial seeding opens a whole new window of opportunity because it allows for a more diverse mixture of seed species to be planted that all benefit soil in a different way. Drilling cover crop species after harvest limits farmers to very few species that will take root late in the year.

I asked Bench if similar seeding operations, including the use of aircraft, are happening in other parts of the United States. He says:

Yes. This occurs across the U.S and is catching on more and more as government programs are helping to fund such seedings. Farmers are also seeing the benefits of cover crops to their operations and seeding cover crops aerially on their own dime as well.

loading the hopper with seed

loading the hopper with seed

close-up of loader

close up  of spreader (disperses seed)

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