This Week’s Headlines
Improved InterSeeder featured at event
By DOROTHY NOBLE
HOLTWOOD, Pa. (Nov. 11, 2014) — Research continues to extol the benefits of cover cropping. A system of cover crops curtails soil erosion, suppresses weeds, reduces drought stress and provides nutrients to the subsequent crop. Cover crops provide forage as well.
Several Penn State agronomy researchers displayed the latest version of their InterSeeder at the Cover Crop Field Day at Steve Groff’s farm in late October.
This latest version of the machine allows a lighter horsepower tractor to be used compared to the original equipment. The new InterSeeder can also be transported with a pickup truck.
Also, the newer version provides for drilling grain into a field for no-till production by adding row units.
In addition, a double disc opener facilitates the seed flow, improving the seed/soil contact. The drill depth can be controlled.
Designed to sow cover crops into standing row crops, the InterSeeder machine saves time and money, researchers said.
At the V7 or earlier stage of corn, the InterSeeder in a single pass precision-applies nitrogen four inches off the corn row, applies post-emergent herbicide under the corn canopy targeting the weeds and plants the cover crop between the 30-inch corn rows.
Enough sunlight penetrates the canopy at that corn stage for the cover crop seed to germinate and establish.
While the growing corn increasingly shades the cover crop, the cover crop is prevented from competing with the corn for nutrients and moisture.
By corn harvest time, the cover crop has been growing for about two months.
Consequently, the InterSeeder system provides the cover crop the opportunity to flourish and mature earlier — a significant advantage for shorter season environments.
The developers calculate making only one trip for sidedressing, spraying herbicide and sowing he cover crop compared with three passes, saves about $19 per acre.
Further, based on increased corn yields due to rotating corn into a grass/legume field can result in added revenue of close to $90 per acre, agronomists told the crowd at Groff’s farm.
Besides the added corn yields, nitrogen costs can be reduced and fall forage from grazing the cover crop can be realized.
Prototypes of the present InterSeeder have been tested extensively in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont. Field trial results at numerous locations have been documented yearly since 2011.
Trials have not been limited to corn. Research with wheat, rye and soybeans is also underway, researchers said.
The effects of corn following corn at various locations using several scenarios is being studied as well. In the second year, the results so far show that the InterSeeder minimizes the potential yield loss.
For example, a legume grass mix provided better growing conditions for the second year, researchers added. With interseeding in the row middles the first year, the subsequent year’s corn was planted next to the original corn rows to avoid planting into a dense cover crop.
Results from a variety of cover crops, included medium red, crimson, sweet and ladino clover, plus hairy vetch, Kentucky bluegrass, orchard grass, tall fescue, tillage radish and perennial and annual ryegrass cultivars have been documented. Mixes, too, have been studied.
In addition, a dozen herbicides are continually evaluated. Untreated plots are included in the research as well.
The positive role of cover cropping in reducing nutrient runoff and leaching has been well documented. Much of this research has focused on the Chesapeake Bay watershed as an effort to improve water quality entering streams and rivers from farms.
Penn State has a patent pending for the InterSeeder and has licensed it to the developers, who formed InterSeeder Technologies.
Their website, InterSeederTech.com, includes information on the technology and photos of the machine’s operation and its components.