Applying Cover Crops with a High-Boy

Over the past few years farmers and ground applicators have been looking for new and innovative ways to apply cover crops.  One of the more successful ways has been with a high-boy or Hagie sprayer/spreader.  My friend Craig Simon from NE Indiana had a mixture of Oats and Rye and Turnips applied this way by Andy Ambriole in August 2012.

Craig intends to graze his cover crops as he has done for the past 3 years.  Each year Craig has had his best corn and soybeans in the areas where he had cover crops the previous year.

Although not as fast as aerial applying cover crops; a high-boy type spreader does a fabulous job. Here is Andy Ambriole from near Ft. Wayne, IN applying Craig Simon's cover crop grazing mix of Oats, Winter Cereal Rye, and Appin Turnips in late August 2012.

Although not as fast as aerial applying cover crops; a high-boy type spreader does a fabulous job. Here is Andy Ambriole from near Ft. Wayne, IN applying Craig Simon’s cover crop grazing mix of Oats, Winter Cereal Rye, and Appin Turnips in late August 2012.


12″ tall Appin turnips and oats along with corn stalks will provide excellent feed for the rest of the fall and winter. The winter cereal rye is short now but will grow more over winter and next spring to provide additional grazing opportunities.

The advantages of using a high-boy type applicator:

  • More exact placement of seed than aerial application
  • Little if any risk of any drift into neighboring fields
  • Faster application than drilling
  • Earlier application than drilling
  • Cost effective compared to aerial application and drilling

Disadvantages of using a high-boy type applicator:

  • Less acres covered in a day compared to aerial application
  • Soil conditions must be right to avoid compaction
  • Does not incorporate the seed like a drill

While there are few “disadvantages” this practice should increase in popularity over the next few years as more and more acres are covered with cover crops.

Andy’s unit on display at a cover crop workshop. He has done a very good job and an increasing number of acres each year.

Craig Simon’s cover crop mixture that was applied with a high-boy type spreader into standing corn is outstanding! He has a nice even spread and very consistent growth.

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9 Responses to Applying Cover Crops with a High-Boy

  1. Craig Simons October 14, 2012 at 11:22 am #

    We hope to shell the corn maybe this week so I can turn the cows out into the forager mix for fall/winter grazing.

  2. Dave October 14, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    Folks, here is another note from Craig Simons about his harvest this fall after having had cover crops last fall and grazing them.

    In the field we had planted cover crops and let cattle graze it last fall.It was plowed under late last fall.It yielded around 60bu/acre.By far the highest yielding field of soybeans I have ever had on this farm.

  3. Larry Bonnell October 14, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    i had annual ryegrass aerial applied last week of august and am wellsatisfied with the stand ihave in the corn and soybeans will apply a couple of different mix next year. where can i purchase some appian turnips for next year. i had good luck broadcasting annual ryegrass in march 1 and come may 1st it was 1ft tall in corn stubble. i think that aerial application is not being used in the times that the plane is sitting still and not making any money

  4. Dave October 14, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

    Hi Larry. Thanks for your report! E-mail me and I will help you find Appin turnips.

  5. Craig Simons December 8, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    I got over 50 + days of grazing the forager mix and stalks this fall.The cereal rye has been re-growing this fall and will provide some early grazing next spring.I broadcasted some rye in early november and it is coming up good.So I hope to have 20+ acres of cereal rye to graze next spring.The 1 field will be grazed then worked up and planted to soybeans.

  6. Travis June 1, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

    Hi I’m from Canada and cover crops are becoming more and more up here. There is not any applicators up here at all I’m intested on building on I wondered if you can Send me pictures or this machine thanks

  7. Dave June 8, 2013 at 9:44 pm #

    Travis, There are some very creative farmers that have successfully created their own “High-Boy” seeder. One of them is Andy Ambriole
    9766 N. Gundy Rd. Roanoke, IN 46783 Phone: 260-413-3812 Fax: 260-672-3173 . Andy does a great job and I’d be confident he’d help you with some details. Another very good contact is VanTilburg Farms, 6951 Oregon Rd., Celina, Ohio 45822. 1-855-332-2231. I believe Matt would be the best contact there. I know they have been very successful. Good luck! Dave

  8. Ward Zigler August 18, 2014 at 11:56 am #

    From: Charles Town WV. A group of farmers in my area would like plans to build a seeder. Can you help me out?

  9. Dave August 27, 2014 at 10:13 am #

    Ward, A gent named Mike Shuter from Frankton, IN will be a great contact as he builds machines (or attachments) for rigs to apply cover crops. here is Mike’s webpage with contact information. . Best of success! Dave

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