Planting Cover Crops with a Valmar Seeder and Vertical Tillage Tool

by Lucas Benning, Vandalia, IL 

Things in Southern Illinois, as with the rest of the state, continue to be very wet. I have heard of combines and grain carts getting stuck, but nothing major. Yields continue to be very good for our area. Most guys are planning on a 200 bu/a corn average and hopefully 50bu/a for soybeans. The recent rains have made the double crop beans in the area look very good and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some double crop fields beat some of the early planted beans that didn’t receive rain in July and August.

One thing starting to make an impact in our area is cover cropping.  Guys are seeing cleaner fields in the spring that are free from weeds, and in the process they are boosting organic matter in the soil. Currently there aren’t many options for planting your cover crops.  You can fly it on with an airplane or you can make 2 passes, first with the tillage tool and next with the seeder. Cost is a concern for both of these methods.  Broadcasting during fertilizer application is an option, but stand quality can be an issue because of poor seed to soil contact.

Valmar has created a seeder that combines many of these methods and it can be operated and recorded with a John Deere GS3 2630 or 2600 display.  A Valmar seeder is a bulk bin with a set of rollers and a fan that blows the seed through tubes, similar to a John Deere air seeder, but much more compact. These bins are universal and can be mounted to anything.

mcfarlane cover crop seeder 003
Valmar Seeder on a McFarlane Reel Disk

The seed tubes run directly in front of the rolling basket harrow so the seed can get the proper seed to soil contact.

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The Valmar is either ground or hydraulically driven.   I think the hydraulic drive is the better option since the ground drive wheel seems flimsy and the chain is prone to jumping off.  In order to run the system with a JD GS 2600 or 2630 display you must have the hydraulic drive option as well as a John Deere Dry Rate Controller.  Ag Express has a wiring harness that plugs into Deere’s 37-pin rate controller as well as the PWM valve and the speed sensor on the seeder. It is controlled through a GS 2600/2630 display similar to an air seeder and uses a PWM valve as a controller. You then add your calibration factors and start to calibrate the PWM valve and then do a CFR drop test.  The drop test is where you enter your bulk density of product, test speed, test rate, desired weight, and expected CFR. The expected CFR can be approximated because after doing the test the monitor will give you the weight it thought it dropped and you have to enter the actual weight and it will adjust the CFR accordingly. We had to do the drop test a few times in order to get it dialed in, but we also started with an expected CFR that was way off and had to narrow it down from there. After that everything should be set and ready to run.

The Valmar seeder solves the expense of a plane and the wasted fuel with 2 passes. It also helps with the seed to soil contact issue with broadcasting with fertilizer.

If you have any question about this setup get a hold of your local AMS Specialist or salesman for more information.

mcfarlane cover crop seeder 002


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