Air Seeder Program

Sussex Conservation District Introduces New Technology to Sussex County Farmers 

The Sussex Conservation District recently purchased an air seeder to help farmers in the early establishment of cover crops.  The technology of the Miller Nitro with a 90 ft. boom equipped with a specialized seed box allows the farmer to plant cover crops while their cash crop is still in the field.  The air seeder drops seed below the canopy allowing for better seed to soil contact and more even seed distribution. By planting early, the cover crop will benefit from the longer growing degree days during the summer, therefore getting a better established crop to improve water quality and soil health.

The air seeder technology is new to Delaware but has been very successful in the Midwest.  In fact, this project is the first of its kind by a conservation district in the country.  The District’s goal is to get cover crops established earlier by planting into standing crops to improve water quality and soil health.  The District also wants to provide this technology to our cooperators because the cost to purchase this type of specialized equipment is cost prohibitive.  A pilot program was created enrolling 20+ interested farmers which began planting in late July and will run through at least September.  The District partnered on this project with Buckeye Soil Solutions of Ada, Ohio who modified the Miller Nitro with the specialize seed box and distribution system which they built.  Southern States – Dagsboro Store, is also partnering on this project by providing an operator for the air seeder. The District is excited about the interest and enthusiasm of our cooperators about this program.  The goal was 4,000 acres in the first year, which should be surpassed once everything is planted.  There are even cooperators on a waiting list to use the air seeder if time permits.

The District plans to monitor the growth of the cover crops planted with the air seeder.  If this technology is successful, the acres of cover crops will increase both in early planted cover crops as well as cover crops in soybeans that normally may not get planted because of the late harvest. By getting a better stand of cover crops along with incorporating minimum tillage practices and diversifying crop rotations, organic matter will increase improving soil health. The additional cover crop acres will also help Delaware's farmers get increased nutrient load reductions in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Model. These reductions help Delaware work towards reducing their nutrient and sediment loads as outlined in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) and help meet Delaware’s Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) goals and milestones. To see a video of the air seeder, please visit the Sussex Conservation District's youtube channel.



Sussex Conservation's Programs