Renewable Farming

Horsch air seeder sows cereal rye cover crop while you combine

Hal and son Ty Brown of Windy Lane Farms, Indiana, consider cover crops as their “third crop” each season. Their new Horsch air seeder rides piggyback on their combine and blows cereal rye evenly under their 12-row Claas combine header. See the photos below for details on the delivery and control system.

Stalks shredded by the rollers and other residue blown out of the combine chopper settle over the cover crop seed, helping accelerate germination. 

Hal says, “The seeder holds 80 bushels and will seed 110 acres of cereal rye per fill.  Our seed tender fills it in 5 to 10 minutes.

“It is GPS controlled, so it knows when to turn on and shut off on end rows automatically. It adjusts to any speed.”

When these photos were posted on the website on Oct. 19, the photos went viral and received over 15,000 views from around the world. This is the only such seeder in Indiana, and Hal believes it’s the world’s only operational combination of  the Horsch Partner hopper and distribution system with a Claas combine and Drago corn head.  The Horsch hopper and air distribution system adapts for other purposes, such as distributing dry fertilizer for field cultivator incorporation. See examples at  this link.  

Hal and Ty maintain that European ag machinery manufacturers have technologies well ahead of their U.S. competitors. They’re investing in that edge themselves with a subsidiary that markets imported equipment, including Horsch products and the Drago combine head. The firm is Drago Indiana, located at the farm.

Horsch seeder hopper feeds air-driven seed to distribution outlets spaced for uniform delivery under combine header.

Before the Browns got this seeder, Hal used a Horsch Pronto air drill to seed cereal rye into cornstalks.

“I’d be busy seeding until Thanksgiving, and all by myself,” he recalls.  “Now I only  need to use the drill after soybeans to seed covers.  And now I’m free to help with corn harvest. The seeder on the combine will easily pay for itself in one year. Flying seed into corn would be $12 to $14 an acre. Using a drill would average around $15 an acre. Multiply that by 3,500 acres of corn.  It’s hard to beat doing two jobs at the same time….. and so easy!”

The seeder adds so little weight to the Claas that “The combine hardly knows it’s there,” says Hal.  He adds that Horsch is the European leader in seeding equipment: mostly small grains but row-crop planters also. Horsch also makes very sophisticated sprayers.

Windy Lane Farms sells the Horsch planters. Last spring, Hal and Ty ran two 24-row planters for corn and a 32 row, 40 foot planter for beans.

“In one day, we planted 1,000 acres,” Hal recalls. Windy Lane is “basically the only Horsch dealer in Indiana,”  says Hal.  He particularly appreciates working with that company, as it’s a family-owned and operated manufacturing company. 

In September, Farm Journal carried a two-page feature on how Windy Lane Farms has refined its cover crop system over the years. You can download the report as a PDF at this link.

Seeder distribution system rides under 12-row combine header. Big air hose from hopper splits the cereal rye into a manifold and smaller hoses for even distribution.
Seeder has its own GPS control system.