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Equipment and Technique
George Benson Jr. of Stanton has disked and interseeded thousands of acres of CRP for landowners and offers advice on equipment and methods. Of course, each farmer knows best the capabilities of the equipment he operates and the characteristics of his land.
George Benson Jr. of Stanton disks a Stanton County CRP field in preparation for interseeding legumes and forbs.
Benson said that grass and other litter is usually not a problem even in old stands, but where it is troublesome, burning or haying prior to disking also helps.
In 2004, Benson used a John Deere 4840 with a 25-foot tandem disk and harrow to do his fieldwork. He also ran a 4320 with a 20-foot tandem disk and harrow. The tractor should be 150 horsepower or greater to pull the larger disks. On harder soils, Benson found that a minimum of two passes with the disk is necessary to prepare the seedbed adequately. This still leaves the field rough, but with time and moisture, the clods break down.
Staggering disk coverage helps ensure uniform depth. Harrowing works well to knock down clods, speeds up the second pass and helps to keep remaining vegetation laid down in the right direction if the ground is going to be interseeded with legumes, according to Benson. The ground should be dry and work performed only when allowed by USDA rules.
Benson disks at about 2,200 rpm, or about 6 mph, which allows him to cover about eight to 10 acres per hour. Fuel consumption ranges from six to eight gallons per hour at that rate.
Once the seedbed has been prepared, Benson recommends using a 10-foot or larger no-till drill because of rough field conditions. End gate seeders, other seed drills, and floating with fertilizer spreaders have also been used successfully. Although no magic rate for legume interseeding has been determined, USDA field offices normally offer recommendations of five to seven pounds per acre of legumes.
Pheasants Forever, with assistance from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, has designed a series of seed mixtures specifically for wildlife habitat plantings in Nebraska. Pheasants Forever and the Commission offer any landowner in the state advice on which specialized mixtures to plant and sources of these seed mixes at the best price possible.
Pheasant Forever provides seed to more than 1,600 landowners each year for CRP, CREP, CRP-MAP, buffer strips and winter cover plantings on more than 29,000 acres. Through its ability to buy seed on a statewide basis, Pheasants Forever can offer grass and legume mixtures at a cost usually 20 to 40 percent below retail. Call (308) 754-5339.