Byron Seeds’ Involvement In Cover Crops – by Samuel Fisher

Byron Seeds started in the early 1990’s because we could not find the quality grass varieties we needed for our farms. We started out with mostly forages and then soon got involved with cover crops on a small scale.

Research on our farm has been pretty extensive since the beginning. From 1999 through 2007 we tried a lot of different crops broadcast into corn and since we have done some very successful cover crops in rotations. Since 2007, Byron Seeds has been involved in quite a lot of research for cover crops with agronomists and farmers who share our passion for the future of farming.

At Byron Seeds, we see ourselves as an education-based company. We started an early spring Cover Crop Field Day this year involving famers and NRCS folks and we look forward to continuing this effort. In addition, we do seminars, winter meetings and newsletter in order to help spread our message. Since we are an independent seed company, we can constantly look for new and improved varieties from anywhere in the world. In fact, that is one of our key strengths. We strive every day to make sure the seed we sell is the most viable and best value for the farmer.

Here is an example of how we view cover crops fitting into our organization: Let’s say you’ve just bought a new piece of equipment, like maybe a tractor. You’d want to protect your investment by working it according to specs and following a proper maintenance program. You’d know that, if you took good care of it and didn’t work it too hard, normal wear would allow it to last for years. But, what if the more you worked it, the better it got. That using it hard was taking care of it . . . improving it, not wearing it out. That constant work was actually part of the maintenance program. In fact, the more you used it, the more its power and performance were improved and the more years of service were added to its life?

Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it. Nothing in life works that way, material investments always seem to depreciate in value and decrease in productivity. But wait, there is one exception. Soil is just like that, the more you have something growing in it, the more you improve its quality and productivity. The bad news is that modern farming is incredibly hard on soil. The typical corn\soybean rotation we follow year after year is kicking the life and productivity out of our soil, ever notice how it takes more inputs to maintain yield?

The good news is cover crops can reverse the damage of modern farming, improving soil quality and performance. Like a finely tuned tractor, rejuvenated soils can make you money. That’s why cover crops are so important, something green and growing year round. “But” you say, “Cover crops are a pain and don’t fit into my rotation. Besides all that, my neighbor tried them and had an 800 acre disaster.” You’re right. All that you just said is true. Cover crops are an important tool in our sustainable farming toolbox, but the whole cover crop program has been set back in recent years by wanna-a-be seed peddlers jumping in to the cover crop market trying to make a fast buck without any knowledge or experience. There have been a lot of expensive disasters as a result of following unsound advice.

But, what if there was a company that could make cover crops an easy success for you. They did the groundwork so that you could have maximum effect with minimal involvement on your part? Byron Seeds has a cover crop program that will be tailor-made for you. We have consultants that can do an on-farm prescription of the cover crop or crops that best suits your unique operation. If need be, we can custom blend a mix that will optimize your soil improvement program. We understand your unique situation, we’re farmers too. Even more, we have connections with the people that can fly the seed on if needed at just the right time to maximize success. So what does it take on your part? Give us a call and talk to us. We’d be pleased to give you a hand in rebuilding your soil. Let our experience help you make cover crops be a success on your farm.