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Seeds dropped from sky to improve soil and water

Grasses, legumes and radishes planted by air this month at four Northwest Hamilton County farms will together form a one two three punch to boost soil fertility, reduce erosion and improve water quality.

Friday a plane dropped 61 lbs. of seeds an acre on the Heyob, Knollman, Minges and Hoerst Farms.


They are part of a three-year study sponsored by the Hamilton County Soil & Water Conservation District (HCSWCD) that could create a national model to improve soil and water quality using crop cover.

The idea:

  • Planting Oilseed Radishes (18 inches in depth) will break up the soil and improve air and water movement
  • The Winter Rye and Oat grasses will control erosion and then serve as organic matter in the spring
  • Crimson Clover, a legume, will collect and fix atmospheric Nitrogen in the soil

How it is happening:

Small planes dump the seed mix on farms. In this case it falls in the midst of corn and soybean plants.

The idea of a special scientific crop cover is spreading where experts sample the soil and then seed companies provide specific seeds based on soil needs. Warren, Butler and Clermont County have done it.  Parts of Indiana are also considering it.

With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.