Super Simple Seeder Spreads Cover Crops At Harvest

Jeremy Henry seeds cover crops with his combine headers. On the soybean header system he uses ground drive, while the corn header uses a hydraulic drive. Other than that, the systems are nearly identical. Henry described his system in detail in an article in No-Till Farmer (

"They are really just scaled-down fertilizer spreaders with one hopper on each side of the header to spread out the weight," says Henry. "Even full of seeds, they only add about 700 lbs. to the weight of the header."

The seed hoppers are fertilizer boxes from Deere planters. Each has a small spinner spreader mounted beneath it, adapted from ATV-type spinner spreaders. Augers in the fertilizer box deliver seed to the spreaders.

The simple ground drive unit on the soybean header ensures that seed is only spread when the header is down and moving through the field. 

"Whether you slow down for tough beans in the evening or are going full speed during the day, the seeding rate stays the same," says Henry.

The corn header, with its heavier trash environment, is equipped with a hydraulic motor. 

"The ground drive with its chains and wheels would just be a problem in the corn stubble," says Henry. "The hydraulics let me speed up or slow down the augers that deliver the seed as needed."

Henry says the low-cost system has paid off well. When the summer turned dry in 2016, part of a cornfield planted into annual rye the fall before produced 30 bushels more per acre than the part without the cover crop. 

Getting the seed to emerge is aided by the residue spread after the seed is in place. Henry notes that while it was dry with no rain prior to harvest, the cover crops are doing well.

"We hadn't had any rain for 3 weeks when we started shelling the corn, but there was enough moisture in the corn residue that it helped the cover crops take off," says Henry. "A lot of people said it wouldn't work, but it did. With the corn head, I can get magazine-cover type cover crop stands every time."