Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cover crop seeder pulls triple duty for small farms

Date:
May 31, 2011
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
Farmers using a cover crop seeder developed by agricultural scientists may eventually need only a single trip across the field to accomplish what takes most farmers three passes and several pieces of equipment to do.

The multipurpose cover crop seeder prototype, designed and built by Penn State agricultural scientists, could save farmers $10 to $20 an acre by performing two to three operations at once. The seeder scores the soil, plants seed, adds herbicides and sprays fertilizer in a single trip.
Credit: Patrick Mansell, Penn State

Farmers using a cover crop seeder developed by Penn State agricultural scientists may eventually need only a single trip across the field to accomplish what takes most farmers three passes and several pieces of equipment to do.

Related Articles


Pennsylvania farmers are increasingly interested in growing cover crops, but the time, cost and late fall harvest of corn and other crops often limit their use, said Gregory Roth, professor of agronomy.

The seeder can help farmers, especially small operations, save time and money by condensing multiple tasks into one trip through a no-till field. It would also allow farmers to seed fields that lacked cover crops due to late season and cost concerns.

"It can do three things in one pass," Roth said. "It can seed the cover crop, add fertilizer and spray an herbicide to kill emerged weeds."

Unlike plowing, no-till farming uses a minimal amount of ground disturbance when planting seeds, a method that improves the soil and prevents erosion. Cover crops play an important role in reducing runoff and helping to build organic material in the soil during the fall and spring.

A tractor pulls the seeder through the cornfield rows using a sensor to guide the device between the rows. The device has several blades that lightly till the ground between the cornrows creating a planting swath. The seeds drop onto the soil and a follow-up roller packs the seed into place.

At the same time, the machine strategically applies a fertilizer and herbicide. The research team created a prototype using a number of existing technologies from agricultural equipment manufacturers.

According to Roth, the best time to use the device is six weeks after the corn is planted. If the cover crop is planted too early, it can compete with the corn plants; if it is planted too late, the corn crop may be too competitive for the cover crop to grow.

A single pass through a field costs the farmer approximately $10 an acre, Roth said. By saving one to two trips through the fields, farmers could save $10 to $20 per acre.

Other methods of planting cover crops during the growing season -- such as using an airplane to drop seeds on the field -- are expensive and only moderately successful. Roth said the alternative methods are only effective in establishing a cover crop about half the time.

The researchers tested the seeder last summer in three studies at Penn State's Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center, said William Curran, professor of weed sciences. In each of the studies, the crop seeder was successful in establishing cover crops without any impact on corn yields.

The researchers tested three cover crops -- annual ryegrass, red clover and white clover. They also tested a mixture of ryegrass and clover. Because ryegrass and clover can prevent soil erosion and serve as a natural source of nitrogen, farmers also may not need to purchase as much fertilizer.

"We picked cover crops that we thought would work and chose the ones that we thought had the best chance to be successful," Curran said.

The researchers said they are pleased with the results of the first tests, but have more work to do to perfect the seeder.

"We really had just one season for research and we basically tested things that we were pretty sure would be successful," said Curran. "Now we have to do more research before we feel the results are of value and we feel confident in what we're doing."

If the seeder is marketed, the researchers believe that the device will be inexpensive enough for use on smaller farms.

The researchers have filed a provisional patent on this device.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Penn State. "Cover crop seeder pulls triple duty for small farms." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110523161205.htm>.
Penn State. (2011, May 31). Cover crop seeder pulls triple duty for small farms. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110523161205.htm
Penn State. "Cover crop seeder pulls triple duty for small farms." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110523161205.htm (accessed January 26, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, January 26, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Newsy (Jan. 24, 2015) A string of black bear attacks has Florida officials considering lifting the ban on hunting the animals to control their population. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Killing Large Portion Of Ape Population

Ebola Killing Large Portion Of Ape Population

Newsy (Jan. 23, 2015) Experts estimate Ebola has wiped out one-third of the world&apos;s gorillas and chimpanzees. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Controversy Shrouds Captive Killer Whale in Miami

Controversy Shrouds Captive Killer Whale in Miami

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) Activists hope the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) will label killer whales endangered, allowing lawyers to sue a Miami aquarium to release an orca into the wild after 44 years. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
‘Healthy’ Foods That Surprisingly Pack on Pounds

‘Healthy’ Foods That Surprisingly Pack on Pounds

Buzz60 (Jan. 23, 2015) Some &apos;healthy&apos; foods are actually fattening. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) shines a light on the sneaky foods like nuts, seeds, granola, trail mix, avocados, guacamole, olive oil, peanut butter, fruit juices and salads that are good for you...but not so much for your waistline. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins