Market Focus Q+A: Cover Crops

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DAVE KING

At Salford Group, we’re always looking to uncover market opportunities. When we find these opportunities, we work to develop products to meet the needs of farmers in search of a new application. Over the last few years, we’ve observed the emergence of cover crop planting, a farming tactic with multiple benefits. Farmers plant cover crops for a variety of reasons, from erosion control and nutrient replacement in the soil to better yields and more sustainable fields. Dealers looking for another avenue for gaining market share should look no further than supplying equipment for cover crop tilling and planting, available from the Salford Group’s Salford tillage and Salford Valmar precision applicator lines.  Take a look at this Q+A with Salford’s Dave King, a global leader in sales, marketing, and supply chain activities for the company with two decades of experience in marketing farm equipment and technology.

Q: From a market standpoint, what percentage of farmers are planning cover crops?

Dave King: “Right now it’s relatively small, maybe 5 to 10 percent of the market here in North America. We are seeing tremendous growth in certain geographic areas, particularly in lake and river regions. Producers in these areas, such as the Great Lakes region of the USA and Canada, are seeing multiple benefits from planting cover crops. They eliminate erosion and prevent runoff from fertilizer application. The great turnaround for them is that in addition to preventing fertilizer runoff, the cover crop planting itself replaces vital nutrients to the soil. This healthier soil obviously needs less fertilizer during the next growing season.”

Q. From a manufacturer’s perspective, in what regional markets can you alert dealers to the cover crop opportunity?

Dave King: Across the South, planting cover crops is an easy proposition. The weather in southern states typically allows for a longer time window for inter-seasonal crops to take off.  We’re actually leveraging some of our equipment options to create a longer cover crop growing season in some colder areas like the Midwest. What we can do there is pair a Salford Valmar unit, which we have to fit any size farm, with a Salford air tank scaled to size as well. The genius is in the details: we make these units to fit on high-clearance sprayers used while corn or soybeans are in the field, yet to be harvested. With this equipment, you can pass through and plant your cover crops before your seasonal crop is harvested, thus creating that longer growing season for your cover crop to mitigate the harsh winter conditions. We like to say that with our equipment, you get the added value of buying time!”

Q. In what ways—and with what equipment—can Salford dealers help with runoff prevention, addressing a real problem for their customers?

Dave King: “Our customers necessarily run into challenges such as waterway buffer strips and nutrient management plans becoming part of the regulations for growing in particular areas.  We will likely see this phenomenon of increased regulation and environmental buffers continue to affect farmers in more markets across the continent. Salford dealers have the tools to address these challenges, and not simply through our Salford Valmar cover crop applicators.  With the coming together of Salford, BBI, and Valmar, we have multiple tools for vertical tillage (from the Salford Independent Series), as well as multiple ways to get fertilizer into the soil.”

“From Salford Valmar, we have boom spreaders that perform in an incredibly accurate manner even in windy environments. Our Salford BBI lineup defines precision broadcast application for the industry, and from our legacy Salford line, we even have air drills for direct injection of product. We like to think that we break barriers and limits for producers, giving them choice, and ultimately control over their economic destinies. We have a lot of fun with the possibilities of making an impact, showing farmers how they can run a spreader across a field and then come back with a vertical tillage pass for incorporation. Or, they can hook an air cart or boom system directly to a vertical tillage machine, empowering a till-and- plant single pass. You can tell we love what we do with this equipment!”