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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Strategies to Improve Soil and Pest Management in Organic Vegetable Production Systems

Location: Crop Improvement and Protection Research

Title: A time-efficient scooping method to prepare cover crop seed for cone planters.

Author
item Brennan, Eric

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 10, 2010
Publication Date: March 30, 2011
Citation: Brennan, E.B. 2011. A time-efficient scooping method to prepare cover crop seed for cone planters. Agronomy Journal. 103(3):906-913.

Interpretive Summary: Cone planters were developed more than 50 years ago to evenly distribute seed or other granular material in one or more lines over small research plots. Despite the benefits of cone planters, preparing individual seed packets for cone planters is labor-intensive and often exceeds by several fold the time required for planting. This study compared the labor-intensive weighing method with a novel scooping method for preparing seed for planting in a cone planter. The method of preparing seed for the cone planter did not affect the uniformity of a variety of cover crop monoculture which indicates that scooping is a reliable and accurate method to prepare seed. The scooping method also worked with some pre-made mixtures of cover crops. This study provides the first quantitative information on seed segregation in cover crop mixtures and indicates that segregation patterns are influenced by seed weight and seed length.

Technical Abstract: Cone planters (CP) uniformly distribute seed over research plots, however, preparing seed for CP by weighing is time-consuming. This study evaluated the effect of seed preparation method (scooping with a calibrated cup versus weighing) on population density of monoculture cover crops planted at several seeding rates with a CP. The effect of scooping on the composition of pre-made cover crop mixtures was also evaluated. Monocultures included mustard (Brassica juncea L.), rye (Secale cereale L.), common vetch (V. sativa L.), and faba bean (Vicia faba L.) planted at 1x, 2x and 4x rates where 1x rates in pure live seed m-2 were 24 (faba bean), 43 (vetch), 291 (rye) and 310 (mustard). Mixtures contained rye, oat (Avena sativa L.), barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), faba bean, vetch, or pea (Pisum sativum L.), and by seed weight included: Mix 1 (10% rye, 90% faba bean), Mix 2 (10% oat, 90% faba bean), Mix 3 (10% barley, 90% faba bean), Mix 3 (10% vetch, 90% rye), and Mix 5 (10% rye, 25% pea, 30% vetch, 35% faba bean). Seed preparation method did not affect the population densities of the monocultures at any seeding rate. However, seed segregation occurred while scooping some pre-made mixtures from a bucket whereby the proportions of smaller seeded components increased with scooping depth. Therefore scooping is a fast and accurate method (±1%) to prepare monocultures and mixture components, however, scooping pre-made mixtures can be problematic with some pre-made mixtures. Simple methods to detect segregation in pre-made mixtures are discussed.

Last Modified: 7/31/2014