On Thursday September 27, 2018, agricultural fields at NJ Audubon’s Wattles Stewardship Center and within the adjacent NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife Management Area were planted with cover crops thanks to an aerial seeding program administered by Delaware River Watershed Initiative (DRWI) Partner, North Jersey Resource Conservation and Development (NJRC&D). Aerial Seeding at NJA Wattles (PARKE)
A cover crop is a specific plant such as rye, buckwheat, wheat, clover, oats, brassica, and others that is grown primarily for the benefit of the soil and resource protection (i.e. build soil organic matter, increase soil aeration, prevent soil erosion, etc.), rather than for harvest.
Aerial Seeding is a method of sowing seeds by spraying them through aerial mechanical means, such as a plane. The idea being that the seed is heavy enough to fall from the air between the standing crops, allowing the cover crops to germinate and grow before harvest of the primary crop. Many times planting dates for cover cropping do not always line up with harvesting of fields, so traditional methods of planting are not possible until the crops are harvested. By having an alternative method of seeding while crops are still standing, farmers are able to enjoy the benefits of planting a cover crop, such as controlling soil erosion, building soil health, retaining soil moisture and suppressing weeds, without missing appropriate planting times or rushing a harvest.
For the past 4 years NJ Audubon has also been promoting cover crop usage through our work alongside our DRWI partners in both North and South Jersey, by providing cover crop seed and use of our no-till seed drill. In Northern NJ NJA has assisted farmers with the installation of over 1,200 acres of cover crops. In South Jersey, NJA has assisted with over 1,500 acres of cover crops!