Northeast Michigan Aerial Cover Crop Seeding Demonstrations

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2015: $29,810.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2016
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Project Coordinator:
Dr. James DeDecker
Michigan State University AgBioResearch and Extension

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn, oats, rye, soybeans
  • Vegetables: radishes (culinary)


  • Crop Production: cover crops

    Proposal abstract:

    Cover crops offer multiple agronomic and environmental benefits that can contribute to higher yielding and more sustainable cropping systems. However, timely cover crop establishment on Northeast Michigan corn and soybean acres is frequently precluded by harvest timing and late-season field conditions. Alternative seeding technologies (aerial or high clearance) are available to address this barrier, but represent a sometimes prohibitive financial and logistical investment for individual operators.

    Cover Crop Innovators in Iowa and Indiana have suggested that the viability of aerial seeding can be greatly enhanced through cooperative aerial seeding programs coordinated by local agriculture professionals. With this is mind, Michigan State University Extension (MSUE), Northeast Michigan Conservation Districts (Montmorency, Presque Isle and Alpena Counties), the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and four field crop producers have partnered to investigate and demonstrate cooperative aerial seeding as a method of timely cover crop establishment in standing corn and soybeans. Our proposed project will use aerial overseeding to establish cereal rye (over wintering) or oats and radish (winter killed) in corn and soybeans prior to harvest in 2015. These demonstration sites will then be the focus of local outreach on aerial cover crop seeding and the basis for forming a self-sustaining Northeast Michigan Aerial Cover Crop Seeding Program.    

    Project objectives from proposal:

    • Establish four 100 acre aerial seeding demonstration sites in 2015 featuring corn and soybeans overseeded with cereal rye (over wintering) or oats and radish (winter killed)
    • Deliver three outreach events to 1) educate producers on cover crops and the opportunity of cooperative aerial overseeding, 2) demonstrate the results of aerial overseeding in the field, and 3) share information on various methods of cereal rye termination
    • Recruit additional producers and aggregate acres to be seeded through the Northeast Michigan Aerial Cover Crop Seeding Program at an approximate cost of $40/acre in 2015 and beyond
    • Encourage participation in NRCS conservation programs (EQIP and CSP) that provide financial incentives for cover crop use

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.