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Applied Research

Erika Crowl
Agent Associate, Agriculture
University of Maryland Extension


Cover crops are a key management tactic that farmers in Maryland have utilized for years as a means to reduce soil erosion and nutrient runoff into waterways. As a result, cover crops have contributed significantly to the Chesapeake Bay's recovery. Traditional cover crops are seeded in late summer/fall and persist until the following spring when they are terminated and a cash crop is sown in the field. Research has demonstrated that the earlier a cover crop is planted, more ecological and economic benefits are realized. In order to achieve this, farmers have aerial seeded cover crops into standing corn fields for several years now; however, the practice is typically only feasible on large, flat fields. Thousands of Maryland’s farm acres consist of small, fragmented fields with rolling terrain, which are a challenge to seed with a helicopter or airplane. As a potential solution to this problem, interest is being garnered in aerial seeding cover crops with drones; however, little is known regarding the efficacy of this practice. In order to test the feasibility, we performed an on-farm trial by aerial seeding a cover crop of radish using a drone into a corn field on August 27, 2020. We evaluated cover crop stand establishment on October 21, 2020. Average radish plant population was 3.1 plants/ft2. Canopy density was estimated by the Canopeo software and averaged 39.1% coverage. These data indicate that drones may offer a viable solution to seeding cover crops in challenging fields.

Poster has NOT been presented at any previous NACAA AM/PIC

This poster is being submitted for judging. It will be displayed at the AM/PIC if not selected as a State winner. The abstract will be published in the proceedings.

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Authors: E. Crowl, Andrew Kness
  1. Crowl, E. Agent Associate, Agriculture, University of Maryland Extension, Maryland, 21030
  2. Kness, A. Agent, Agriculture, University of Maryland Extension, Maryland, 21154