Note to readers, attached is the complete final report for FNE04-531.
Economically speaking, this project was comparable in cost to a conventional corn planting on the same area. Per acre, the cost to plant this project was approximately $140 for the IMI corn and grass planting with out choice of pre-emergent herbicides and $120 for the IMI corn and legume planting with the require pre-emergent herbicides, typical DAP, N and manure applications not withstanding.
In a conventional planting of corn, with traditional herbicide applications and then a winter rye application in the fall, the cost is slightly less running about $110 per acre, depending on the seed source and type of herbicides used. This does not take into consideration the difference in man-hours with a conventional planting which requires additional field preparation and seeding time. Initial expense was more for an interseed project of this type, but all in all, the price is comparable if you factor in time saved as opposed to money invested.
On final assessment of this project; the grass portion of this field is approximately 50% covered in grasses, the legumes approximately 30%. This is lower ratio than what were were hoping for. Even so, what area is now seeded, is well established and will provide better cover for the soil when spring flooding occurs than the ryegrass section of control that was seeded down after harvest. The soil is crusted over and lack of disturbance alone will help combat the effects of erosion and what is now established will also provide valuable biomass in the Spring. A re-evaluation in the Spring, after the effects of Winter, would be ideal to determine visually and perhaps physically with the Soil Quality Test kit series of tests, if soil did indeed fare better with the interseed tail or without.
Interseeding is a viable crop alternative that does work. Interseeding was an established field process before the age of tractors and high-tech equipment and it proved successful in not only preventing excessive weed growth but it worked as a soil-builder by building bulk matter in the soil and providing erosion control as well. Modernizing this concept has proven to be the problem. How do you make it work and make it convenient has been the challenge.According to research done by Paul Salon, Plant Materials Specialist, USDA-NRCS, Syracuse, NY this concept does work as his test plots at Empire Farm Days have proven. We would like to see how we can make it work for this farmer and others in Vermont.