After torrential rain destroyed cornfield, Oklahoma farmer takes to the skies to plant cover crops

SOUTH COFFEYVILLE, Okla. (KFOR) – After torrential rains and flooding hit Scotty Herriman’s farm in May, it seemed like there wasn’t much left of the crops he planted.

Herriman has been farming along this spot in South Coffeyville for over 50 years.

In the spring, Herriman signed up for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program that promoted cover crop adoption because he was going to have 650 acres of corn.

“It was going to be in the bottoms and prairie too,” Herriman said. “So it was going to be an easy thing for me to drill cover crops behind the corn in early September. Well, here comes the flood in May. The corn was knee-high and we lose it all.”

In May, Herriman’s cornfield was about eight feet under water and his corn crop was ruined. At the time, he immediately began looking for other options.

“Well, we had to go to soybeans to have a crop,” he said. “The light came on, ‘I signed up for a program for cover crops. Now I’ve got beans and they’re not going to come off until nearly frost because they were late going in.’ So I got the idea I could fly in this cover crop and still maintain my agreement with NRCS to get these planted. The program I signed up for in the spring was to break compaction in the soil.”

Scotty Herriman, who farms near South Coffeyville, Okla., is shown here as a plane from Midland Flyers spreads cover crop seed in one of his soybean fields.

Herriman ended up calling Midland Flyers to send two planes to precision seed his fields.

Within two-and-a-half hours, they had seeded 472 acres with two pounds of turnips, three pounds of radishes and 20 pounds of cereal rye.

Shown here is cover crop seed in a field of soybeans. Airplanes from Midland Flyers spread the cover crop seed on some of producer Scotty Herriman’s fields near South Coffeyville, Okla.

“Flying like this is not new to other states. It’s fairly new maybe to Oklahoma,” he said, “but I know Missouri, Indiana and Illinois, they fly on cover crops into standing cornfields for instance. When they get the corn harvested, the cover crops are flourishing quite well. It was not my choice. I would rather drill all this, but due to the flood causing the beans to be later, we had to go ahead and fly and get it coming up as the leaves start changing. I think it’s going to be beneficial.”

Scotty Herriman, who farms near South Coffeyville, Okla., watches as a plane from Midland Flyers spreads cover crop seed in one of his soybean fields.

“Their EQIP Program that promotes the use of cover crops, allows us the opportunity to get federal monies to try some of these things. With that three-year contract that I’m in, that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re making it happen.”

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