Equipping farmers to build resilient farms and communities.
Rick Pellet of Atlantic, IA believes that getting cover crops in the ground during the fall—no matter what time—is critical. And while he’ll be drilling his cover crops this this fall, Rick chimed in with some tips for aerially seeding cover crops from past years’ experience.

Weigh the risk: Rick says, “The years I get it right, I get good growth, but often my flown-on cover crop stand is spotty.” He advises to think about your goals, then decide if flying on cover crops is the best option for you. “For the people with livestock, the opportunity for growth might be worth the spottiness,” Rick says. He also notes that farmers in Illinois with greater precipitation and earlier maturing varieties might have better luck.

Look for rain: “It’s best to have at least a half-inch of rain within a couple weeks after flying the seed on, and preferable to have some rain before seeding,” Rick says. “A few years ago, Sarah [Carlson] sent us an email telling us to look for hurricanes in the Gulf [of Mexico] because we’ll get rain in the Midwest shortly after.”

The graphs below show the historical probability of over one inch of rain within 24 hours during the defined windows. (Data includes precipitation records from the last 30 years and was provided by from ISU’s Mesonet.)
Look for black layer: Rick says to make sure that if you’re aerially seeding into corn, it has reached black layer. “Corn at black layer is ideal because the cover crop seed will have enough sunlight after its germinated to grow, but the seed won’t be intercepted by trash.”
PROGRAM UPDATES
Ready to invest in cover crops on your farm?

You could earn $1,600 or more to help off-set the costfill out the application now to see if you’re eligible.
DERECHO RESOURCES
Hellmann’s wants to feed your crew as you pick-up and recover from the Iowa derecho
Hellmann’s is partnering with Practical Farmers of Iowa to support local restaurants who will feed your clean up crew so you can get back to work faster.

It's easy to get fed, just email sarah@practicalfarmers.org if interested and we will figure out the logistics for you.
If you had plans to fly on cover crops but are dealing with downed corn, you can read about the conditions that we think it would work in, based off of a drone-seeded trial conducted with Tim Couser of Nevada, IA and Bill Frederick of Jefferson, IA.
Watch the recording of Tuesday's call discussing options for managing derecho-damaged crops and prioritizing cover crops.

Speakers included Mark Licht, of ISU Extension and Outreach; Susan Kozak of IDALS; Mark Gutierrez of USDA-RMA; Mike Henderson of NRCS; and Tim Bardole of Iowa Soybean Association.
AERIALLY SEEDING
Aerially seeding cover crop seed will be most successful when corn is at black layer and rain is in coming. You can calculate an estimate date of when your corn will reach black layer with this calculator created by the University of Illinois, or you could go take a look at the corn kernels in your field to estimate when a field might reach black layer.
Aerially seeding cover crops can provide a jump start on biomass production and can save you time later in the fall.

But for aerial seeding to be successful, you’ll need to evaluate the conditions of the crop you’re seeding into and the weather forecast. Learn how to increase your chances for success in this blog post.

Ever wonder how the airplanes get the seed on fields?

In 2017, we tagged along with Stott Aerial Spray and Iowa Cover Crop to shoot some footage of aerially seeding cover crops.

We’ve created a directory of businesses to help you meet your cover crop goals. On it, you can find custom applicators, seed suppliers, seed cleaners and more.

If you offer any cover-crop related services or cover crop seed, email jason@practicalfarmers.org so we can list your business on the directory.
UPCOMING EVENTS
Practical Farmers is hosting all of our field days online—making it easier for you to “attend” field days over a broader geography. Check out the full field day lineup here.
Hosted by: Matt Helmers & Iowa Learning Farms
September 2 | Noon-1 p.m. | Online

Hosted by: Illinois Sustainable Ag Partnership & Partners
September 3 | 10-11:45 a.m. | Decatur, IL & Online

Hosted by: The Soil Health Partnership
September 8 | 9 a.m. | Online

Hosted by: The Soil Health Partnership
September 9 | 9 a.m. | Online

Hosted by: The Soil Health Partnership
September 10 | 9 a.m. | Online

Hosted by: Iowa Learning Farms
September 10 | 1 p.m. | Online

Hosted by: Jared Oomen, Sam Hitchcock Tilton & Practical Farmers
September 11 | 12:30-1:10 p.m. | Online

Hosted by: Emily Krekelberg and Iowa Farm Bureau
September 14 | 1 p.m. | Online

Hosted by: Peter Seeley, Sam Hitchcock Tilton & Practical Farmers
September 18 |12:30-1:10 pm | Online

Hosted by: Soil Health Partnership
September 29 | 10-11 a.m. | Online
Want to host a virtual cover crop happy hour? We’ll help you with the tech, and how to virtually invite your neighbors to the discussion. Contact Sarah if interested sarah@practicalfarmers.org
 
Are you planning or hosting a cover crop field day—virtual or in person? Send the details to rebecca@practicalfarmers.org, and we’ll include it in our next newsletter.
COVER CROP POLL
What's your take on flying on cover crop seed?
Convenient and I like early growth
Too spotty or challenging to me
I'm trying it for the first time this year
Haven't tried it yet
Want to expand further on this poll topic? Reply to this email and we may feature your thoughts in the next issue of "The Practical Cover Cropper."
 
Send us your cover crop poll ideas! We want to know what YOU want to know, reply to this email with your ideas for the next poll.
Previous poll results:
What sort of damage did you experience from the derecho?
  • My fields were unaffected - 50%
  • Some corn at an angle, nothing snapped - 10%
  • Some snapped corn - 23%
  • A lot of snapped corn - 17%
CONTACT OUR COVER CROPS TEAM
Sarah Carlson
Strategic Initiatives Director
(515) 232-5661
Chris Wilbeck
Independent Contractor
(515) 232-5661
Rebecca Clay
Strategic Initiatives Agronomy Coordinator
(515) 232-5661