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Aerial Cover Crop Seeding

Aerial Cover Crop Seeding: Taking soil health to new heights. Image of cover crop seeds being dropped from a helicopter over a field of silage corn.

The aerial cover crop seeding initiative is designed to improve soil health in Massachusetts. Financial assistance is provided to farmers to hire a helicopter, purchase cover crop seed, and spread the seed over fields while the primary crop is still growing.

Aerial seeding helps to establish a cover crop before the short Massachusetts growing season comes to an end, increasing the soil health benefits of the cover crop.

In the aerial cover crop seeding process, a helicopter drops winter rye seed to establish a “cover crop” that will protect the soil after the main crop is harvested. This controlled seed application uses a Global Positioning System (GPS) to precisely map where seed is distributed.

The aerial seeding typically takes place in September in towns across Massachusetts. Weather and
other variables determine the exact flight schedule. Farms participate voluntarily.

Public information resources

What does aerial seeding look like?

Note: the video clip below is downloadable via Flickr; see link above.


Towns with participating farms, by county - 2018

  • Berkshire: Adams, Cheshire, Egremont, Great Barrington, Lanesborough, New Ashford, North Adams, Sheffield, Williamstown
  • Essex: West Newbury
  • Franklin: Ashfield, Colrain, Conway, Deerfield, Gill, Greenfield, Northfield, Orange, Sunderland, Whately
  • Hampden: Monson, Westfield, Wilbraham
  • Hampshire: Belchertown, Cummington, Hatfield , South Hadley, Southampton
  • Middlesex: Carlisle, Townsend
  • Worcester: Leicester, Oxford, Warren

Contact information

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