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Title: Aerially seeding cover crops in the northern US Corn Belt: Limitations, future research needs, and alternative practices

item WILSON, MELISSA - Morgan State University
item ALLAN, DEBORAH - The Community College Of Baltimore County
item Baker, John

Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/30/2014
Publication Date: 5/20/2014
Citation: Wilson, M., Allan, D.A., Baker, J.M. 2014. Aerially seeding cover crops in the northern U.S. Corn Belt: Limitations, future research needs, and alternative practices. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. 69(3):67A-72A. DOI: 10.2489/jswc.69.3.67A.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Introducing cover crops into the corn-soybean rotation is one way to improve soil quality and reduce soil and nutrient losses. However, successful establishment after harvest of the main crop is highly unpredictable as a result of the short growing season in the northern US Corn Belt. Aerial application into standing corn or soybeans may allow more time for fall growth, but the practice is considered risky and adoption is low. Some of the current limitations include unpredictable weather, lack of aerial applicators, inconsistent stands due to pilot error and seed predation, and high costs. Future research should focus on characterizing the mechanics of aerial application and finding cover crop cultivars appropriate for the climate and low soil moisture conditions. Since we cannot control the weather, this practice may not be appropriate for every year but is one way to increase adoption throughout the region. Alternative methods to aerial seeding include self-seeding, manure slurry seeding, and using seed coatings, but these have not been well researched, especially for northern climates.