Homemade Interseeder

Two years ago, FARM SHOW featured a new wrinkle in double cropping designed and built by Nebraska farmer Dale Harlan, of Hickman. He equipped his combine header with an interseeder and plants soybeans while harvesting the wheat. Last year, Dale went to the field with a new-style interseeder which allows him to interseed soybeans earlier, rather than having to wait until the wheat is ripe and ready to combine.

The new interseeder is equipped with row units and openers purchased from Great Plains Mfg., Wichita, Kan. "They're the same units the company uses on its Great Plains drills. One disk leads the other to create a cultivating action which slices through heavy crop residue," Dale explains.

The interseeder takes a 25-ft. swath and plants soybeans in 15-in. rows. It's mounted on a 560 International tractor set for 75-in. wheel tread and equipped with 12.4 by 38-in. tires on the rear, and 7.50 by 16 mono-rib tires up front. Planter boxes, salvaged from a Deere model B drill, hold 25 bu. of beans (with side extensions). Drill wings on each side of the tractor are hinged to follow slopes and have a "crazy wheel" at the outer end (equipped with a 6.00 by 16 mono-rib tires) for support. The mono-rib tires help part the wheat, minimizing damage as they roll through the field. The drills fold back for transport and can easily be removed by unfastening just two bolts.

This year, Dale started interseeding soybeans when winter wheat was just starting to head out in late May. He used a normal full season maturing variety of Asgrow beans, planting them 1/2 to 1 in. deep at the rate of about 180,000 plants per acre.

"We made no attempt to follow the wheat rows when planting the beans," notes Dale. "When we straight-combined the wheat last year on July 9, we cut off the tops of some plants and damaged about 25% of the beans overall. The beans were 12 to 15 in. tall at the time. Cutting off the tops of beans didn't seem to hurt but we hope to minimize drive-over damage this year by going to a wider 24-ft. header."

Last year, under difficult conditions, Dale harvested about 30 bu. of wheat and 35 bu. of soybeans on his best acres and hopes to regularly produce 35 to 40 bu. per acre beans as a second crop.

Dale says his tractor-mounted drill design would work with any drill and tractor. "Our main goal was to minimize damage. It lets us use a wider drill with a much smaller tractor than if we pulled the drill behind, and we've minimized the number of tires running through the field. We're also planting ahead of the rear tractor tires which has helped improve emergence," says Dale, noting that he also used the home-built drill to plant 250 acres of conventionally-tilled soybeans.