The 2019 crop season will not be soon forgotten but hopefully there is something positive worth remembering: It will be the first time that several thousand acres are being seeded in cover crops thanks to a partnership between IL Corn Growers Association (ICGA), Precision Conservation Management (PCM), Beck’s Hybrids, and many willing aerial applicators throughout the state. The “Reduced Cost Cover Crop Program” provided the opportunity for ICGA members, whom have never used cover crops, the chance to have 40 acres of Beck’s oat-radish cover crop mix flown onto their field for a nominal fee to the farmer. This low-cost, low-maintenance program is ideal for a low-risk first-time experience because it is a terminal seed mix which does not require any spring burndown. Additionally, most logistics regarding aerial application, seed handling, and when to apply are coordinated by a team of dedicated individuals who believe in the benefits of cover crops as a best management practice.
For most participants, as in past years, cover crop seed was aerially applied to a standing corn or soybean field. Unlike any other year, the application window was delayed – or in extreme cases – was ground applied to prevent plant acres. Trying something new, especially in a challenging year like this, can be overwhelming but conditions experienced this year may also provide a valuable glimpse to see what cover crops can really do. An early seeding with no other growing crop may allow for the best possible stand and allow the farmer to evaluate a new practice while helping hold onto any nutrients that may have been applied, suppressing weeds, and holding the soil in place until next year’s cash crop can be seeded. For those trying cover crops on “traditional acres” the outcome could vary greatly depending on the maturity of the growing crop in relation to when cover crop seed was applied. First frost in another concern. Hopefully it will not hit in mid-October, like it did in 2018! One thing we know is this: If it weren’t for our ongoing relationships with Beck’s Hybrids, who guaranteed the seed we needed would be available in this year of shortage, and these aerial applicators, who stretched their time and resources to get our participants’ seed applied, our efforts to reduce nutrient loss would have been greatly diminished in 2019.
THANK YOU PARTNERS!
Beck’s Superior Hybrids
Adams Aerial Solutions, LLC, Sevoy
Ag Tech, Lena
Beniot Aerial Spraying, Kankakee
Beulah Land Aerial Spraying, Biggsville
Curless Flying Service, Astoria
Farm Air Inc., Fairfield
Frank’s Flying Service, Morrison
Hendrickson Flying Service, Rochelle
Killam Flying Service, Carlinville
Pontiac Flying Service, Pontiac
R&R Flight Service, Mendota
Southern IL Custom Aviation, LLC, Carmi
Aerinova Aerial, LLC, Mattoon