• Diann Korbel

Local Aerial Seeding for Cover Crops Brings Soil Benefits

Updated: Sep 30, 2020

If you happened to look to the sky late last September to see airplanes flying over crop fields, you probably caught a glimpse of cover crop aerial seedings.

The Scott SWCD partnered with a local aerial applicator to seed cover crops onto local farmer’s fields, and they will be continuing that program this year. This will be the third year in a row that the service is being provided. Last year, 332 acres of cover crops throughout Scott County were seeded by plane. The seed was flown on 3-4 weeks before harvest, giving it time to germinate and grow before winter set in. The cooperation between the Scott SWCD, Le Sueur SWCD, and participating farmers made the effort last year quick and successful.

The benefits of cover crops and aerial seeding. In most corn and soybean operations, crop fields are left bare from late fall, all throughout winter, and into early spring. Fields are therefore left will little protection against erosion. However, with a cover crop fields are better protected throughout the winter and early spring. That cover—in the form of species like winter cereal grains and radishes—holds soil in place where it otherwise would h

ave been eroded away by the melting snow and spring rains. In addition, living cover improves soil health, by introducing carbon and enhancing biological activity. Together these benefits improve crop nutrient utilization while reducing runoff and downstream pollution. . The chosen seed mixes are tolerant to our cold winters so they will grow again in early spring. With aerial seeding, you can seed into a standing crop, which otherwise cannot be done with a drill. Additionally, aerial seeding is much quicker, so if you’re working under a tight window, seeding can still happen.

How to sign up for aerial seeding. If you are interested in aerial seeding cover crops on your fields this year, contact Scott SWCD Ag Program Specialist, Diann Korbel at 952-492-5414 or dkorbel@scottswcd.org. Requests must be made before August 1st to ensure you are put on the seeding list. The Scott SWCD will not only help you schedule your seeding, they will also help you design and implement your entire cover crop plan. Financial incentives may be available as well.