Ben Barlage gets dual use out of his 4-row cultivator with a gravity-fed interseeding attachment. He stacked a pair of Gandy silage inoculant hoppers on the toolbar and drops seed behind each set of cultivator shanks. The combo unit is ideal for his 50 acres of organic corn in fields that average around 12 acres each.
"The seed lands on freshly cultivated ground and takes off," says Barlage. "We don't even have to use a drag chain, as we try to cultivate ahead of a rain."
He used salvaged angle iron for a frame and bolted it to the toolbar. The first year he attached clear plastic tubing to the hopper outlets and let the seed flow down behind the cultivator shanks."
Barlage calibrated the flow by simply opening the outlets and comparing the flow rates at different settings on the applicator dials. Setting the smaller model 903JR with its two outlets at 45 and the larger model 902JR with three outlets at 55 gave him matching flowrates. He can cover about 5 acres per fill at 12 lbs. per acre.
However, the clear tubing gave him a problem. "The first year I used it, I discovered the clear plastic had a problem with condensation," says Barlage. "I switched to 1 3/4-in. green and black ribbed tubing. Works much better."
Barlage has used the new tubing for the past 2 years with good results. The combination of 36-in. wide rows and seed dropping on freshly tilled soil gives him improved weed suppression in-season and excellent biomass production.
"We plant a cover crop mix from Albert Lea Seed that includes radish, turnip, annual rye and clover seed," says Barlage. "Two years ago, we had foot-long field radish and softball-size turnips between the rows at the end of the season. They all died back, but the clover came back the next spring."
Barlage likes the results he sees, as well as the low cost for his system. Keeping inputs down on his diversified, organic operation is key. In addition to organic corn, he also grows soybeans and garlic, produces maple syrup and raises pastured lamb and beef.
"The interseeder does a great job for a very low investment," he says. "The only thing we had to buy was the plastic hose."
He notes that used Gandy systems are readily available. He points FARM SHOW readers to Daily Bread Machinery, Mora, Minn. A farmer himself, owner Paul Belkholm buys and sells Gandy and Valmar seeders. He mechanically refurbishes units to field ready conditions. In some cases, he sandblasts and repaints units to like new condition (www.dailybreadmachinery.com; ph 320 679-8483).
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Ben Barlage, 24451 265th Ave., Long Prairie, Minn. 56347 (ph 320 874-0775; firstname.lastname@example.org).