Creativity leads to new interseeder and more cover crops

From Door-Kewanuee Demo Farms

We’ve all heard at one point or another that equipment is a barrier to conservation adoption. It’s an investment that many are hesitant to make, especially if they’re not certain it will work for their operation. Let’s dive into a success story from one of the Door-Kewaunee Demo Farms (DK Demo Farms) and how they took advantage of local resources to make big changes on their farm.

For Augustian Farms, interseeding cover crops was an appealing option. Getting their cover crops established early not only means less work in the fall, but it also increases the odds of having a better stand going into winter, creating a win-win for their farm and their conservation goals. But the question remained, what interseeding method would work best for their farm?

Augustians’ first attempt at interseeding was during their urea application. However, they quickly realized that they wanted a less disruptive approach to seeding. They began to look for alternative methods, which is when they first contacted Brown County’s Land & Water Conservation Department. Through a partnership between the county, Green Bay’s Metropolitan Sewerage District (NEW Water), and the Fund for Lake Michigan, the department owns a 6-row interseeder from Interseeder Technologies. The equipment is available for farmers to rent. This rental program allowed Augustians to interseed more than 100 acres in a single season and gain first-hand experience with the equipment. After two successful years of renting, it was clear that the interseeder provided a more efficient and less disruptive approach to interseeding and that owning their own equipment would add value to their farm.

After exploring all of their options, including buying new, Augustians decided that building an interseeder would be best for their farm. Based on their experience with Brown County’s unit, they were confident they wanted a planter that could drill the seed into the ground, while minimizing soil disturbance. However, to maximize efficiency, they wanted to build a larger, 12-row unit. To keep weight and costs down, they opted to utilize an existing toolbar on the farm and modify it to meet their needs. They stripped the tool bar and mounted new duo seed row units from Dawn Equipment. They installed an air box, which allowed them to double the units (from 6 to 12-units), while keeping overall weight down. The combination of used and new parts, hard-work and determination resulted in an interseeder capable of taking their cover crop system to the next level. In just one year, they have doubled the number of interseeded acres and hope to see that number continue growing.

While the primary purpose of the toolbar is to interseed cover crops into corn, Augustians are exploring other ways to utilize the equipment. After their 2022 winter wheat harvest, they interseeded a mix of red clover, hairy vetch and winter rye. Next spring, the goal is to plant corn in between the rows and to maximize the legume’s nitrogen credit by delaying termination. It’s important to remember that while legumes are nitrogen fixing plants, the majority of the nitrogen is released after the plant is terminated. Therefore, planting the red clover and hairy vetch in late summer will allow the Augustians to utilize a nitrogen credit when the cover crop is terminated the following year.
The Augustians have hosted field days dedicated to showcasing their new interseeder and how they plan to use it on their farm, as well as on other farms in the watershed. To learn more about their experiences and to see the equipment in action, follow DK Demo Farms on Facebook and join their text messaging service for updates on 2023 field days! (Text DKDemoFarms to 920-234-9650). For more information about renting the Brown County interseeder, contact Nick Peltier at 920-284-9349 or nick.peltier@browncountywi.gov