Interest in cover crops continues to grow despite low commodity prices and tight profit margins.
“In 2019 we continue to see an increase in cover crops, especially with all the prevent-plant acres throughout the Great Lakes region and across other territories,” says Scott Welden, AgDirect territory manager in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.
Sensing this trend, equipment manufacturers have responded by introducing more cover crop tools and implements on the market.
“Some of the shop-made farmer innovations have prompted manufacturers to build their own commercially available, specialized tools to meet those needs,” says Welden. “The number of crimpers, seeders and combination tillage equipment we’re now seeing at trade shows is another indicator that speaks to the level of interest in cover crops throughout the industry.”
“It’s also an example of how economies of scale in production agriculture continues to be the norm,” he adds.
In addition to the direct inputs needed to establish a cover crop such as seed and planting costs, Welden says it’s just as important to think about indirect costs like additional equipment, time and labor demands.
“Depending on what seeding method is being used, you’re potentially adding hours on your equipment and the work to cover extra acres,” he says.
Popular cover crop seeding methods include broadcasting by air, broadcasting by ground using mounted spinners or booms with tubes, incorporation which combines seeding with a tillage tool, or drilling.
“No matter what method you choose you’re either extending your fieldwork window or increasing demands to manage more than one field operation at a time,” says Welden. “This adds to the complexity of the short window that already exists each season.”
Custom seeding solutions
One solution for implementing cover crops without increasing demands on time or labor includes hiring custom seeding services.
“A large percent of cover crop seeding is done through custom applicators,” says Welden. “Producers are already wearing a lot of hats, so rather than doing the work themselves it makes sense to hire an applicator who has the single-purpose machine needed for the job.”
Chances are the cover crop system you’re using will be different from your neighbor, which means so will your equipment needs. For example, one producer may destroy their cover crop stand in the spring before it matures or goes to seed, while another may choose to run a crimper over the crop and plant into the biomass.
The use of different cover cropping models presents another reason why custom cover crop seeding is a win-win for producers and applicators.
“Producers have more time to manage other demands in their operation, and custom applicators have an opportunity to find seasonal work year-round,” says Welden.
“At AgDirect, we have financing options available for cover crop equipment that can fit the needs of custom applicators, farm service providers and cooperative business models,” he says. “Plus we have competitive rates and access to a network of equipment dealers and other resources across North America.”
Learn more about cover crop equipment financing options by locating your nearest AgDirect territory manager or contacting the AgDirect financing team at 888-525-9805.