Seed Drill vs Air Seeder: Best Cover Crop Seeding Machinery?

Vortek Team |
October 10, 2023

Cover crops are increasingly being used by farmers to improve soil health, reduce erosion, and suppress weeds. However, planting cover crops can be challenging, especially in areas with high residue levels or difficult terrain. Not to mention the hundreds of equipment options available on the market. Stick around to the end to read about a side to side comparison we did with the Vortek Air Seeder and a John Deer seed drill.

Two of the most common types of equipment used to plant cover crops are air seeders and seed drills. Both machines have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to choose the right one for your specific needs.

tractor tilling the field

Air Seeders

Air seeders use a fan to propel seeds through tubes, off of deflectors and into the ground. This makes them well-suited for planting in heavy residue conditions, as the seeds can be broadcast over the residue and fall into the soil. Air seeders are also relatively fast, and usually have a large capacity tank making them a good choice for planting large acreages. A few of the advantages and disadvantages are listed below.

Can plant in heavy residue conditionsLess precise seed placement than seed drills
Fast planting speedsCan be susceptible to wind drift
Can plant a variety of seed sizes and typesCan require more seed than seed drills
Can be used to interseed cover crops into standing crops

Seed Drills

Seed drills use coulters or discs to open up the soil and place seeds in uniform rows at a specific depth. This results in more precise seed placement and better seed-to-soil contact, which can lead to higher germination rates and more uniform emergence. A few of the advantages and disadvantages are listed below.

More precise seed placement than air seedersNot well-suited for planting in heavy residue conditions
Less susceptible to wind driftSlower planting speeds
Requires less seed than air seedersOften more expensive than air seeders
Better seed-to-soil contact
newly planted fields

Which Type of Seeder is Right for You?

The best type of seeder for cover crop seeding depends on a number of factors, including your soil type, residue levels, terrain, acreage and budget. Here are some things to think about when making a choice between seed drills and air seeders.

Seed drills are a good choice for farmers who:

  • Need precise seed placement
  • Have relatively low residue levels
  • Are planting on level terrain
  • Have a larger budget

Air seeders are a good choice for farmers who:

  • Need to plant in heavy residue conditions
  • Need to plant large acreages quickly
  • Are planting on uneven terrain
  • Have a tighter budget

Making a choice between these two pieces of machinery comes down to your specific needs and requirements. However, we believe that the Vortek Air Seeder has all the advantages of the air seeder plus some. We even did a side by side comparison of the Vortek Air Seeder with a John Deer Drill to highlight the advantages.

Tractor in field using Vortek seeder
The Vortek Air Seeder – “Two Jobs – One Pass”

The Vortek Air Seeder: One Pass, Two Jobs

At Vortek, our core mission is to make farming more efficient. We believe that when it comes to cover crops and fertilizer, efficiency is key. That’s why we designed the Vortek Application System. Our Vortek Application System combines the best of both worlds – high-efficiency vertical tillage and seeding or consistent fertilizer application – all in a single pass. No more time wasted on separate operations. With Vortek Air Seeder Carts, you have options.

In addition to this the Vortek Air Seeder features three game-changing things:

  1. Bolt-on Distribution Kit: Mount our Bolt-on Distribution Kit to your tillage implement, connect it to our 130-bushel/138 cu. ft. Vortek Air Cart, and you’re ready for unsurpassed productivity in the field. Not seeding or fertilizing? No problem. Vortek’s simple disconnect feature allows you to effortlessly revert back to an uncluttered tillage implement.
  2. Large Hassle Free Tank: The Vortek Air Seeder features a large 130-bushel/138 cu. ft. tank with a 22″ – 22″ opening making it easy to fill and clean.
  3. Flexible Rate Control: With Vortek Air Seeder Carts, you have options. Our Rate Control Modules are compatible with ISOBUS systems for precision control. If you prefer a more hands-on approach, manual rate control options are available.

If you aren’t convinced, check out this side by side comparison we did with a John Deere seed drill. We think you’ll be impressed with the results.

The Vortek Air Seeder takes out much of the guess work in deciding how to plant your cover crops, even as a no-till farmer with vertical tillage implements. Our system is designed to provide flexibility, speed and results. Contact us to get a quote today or check out custom seeding operators who use the Vortek Air Cart.

Contact Details

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