“Elaborate statistics are not substitute
for meticulous experimentation.”
G.W. Snedecor

Drones sawing intercrops over ripening Corn



Sawing a Clover intercrop over Corn before harvest

sowing drone intercrop sprout corn clover

Clover sprouting in a Corn field

Why sawing an intercrop ?

Leguminous plants are often planted after harverst on Corn fields. This method prevents soil erosion during the winter season, preserves the soil fauna, brings nutrients and even reduces weeds for the next crop. Moreover, in Europe temporal intercropping are compulsory to qualify for European financial contributions.

sowing drone intercrop corn mature

Sawing drone flying

sowing drone intercrop corn take-off

Filling a sawing drone

When and how to sow the intercrop ?

September is the best time to interseed cover crops into corn, when it’s still warm and sunny enough for sprouting. But how to avoid disturbing the corn before harvest? In the past two techniques have already been tried, with no great success :

  • A high clearance tractor with a special seeder: Takes a lot of time to avoid Corn crop damages.
  • A helicopter: Expensive, and the rotor creates a depression that hinders homogeneous seedling.

Intercrop sawing drones experimented in France

sowing drone intercrop corn filling

Sawing drone before take-off

sowing drone intercrop piloting

Piloting the drones

sowing drone intercrop in action

Sawing Clover

Building an intercrop sowing drone

Ovalie innovation center and the drone experts Reflet du Monde have been experimenting the use of aerial seedling for a few years, with a first real-scale experimentation in september 2017 on Corn crops and vineyards. On the vine there are still many challenges unsolved, like the seedling of large seeds needing caching, or the accuracy of seedling.

Over 1.3 hectares (about 3 acres) of ripening Corn have been planted with Clover in 2017. The trial was a success, confirming the potential of intercrop sawing drones and giving clues of improvement, notably the size of the drone: That version was carrying 4 kg (9 pounds) of seeds, requiring 2 or 3 fillings per hectare.

This year in september 2018 ...

Maïsadour and Vivadour, agronomy pioneers

sowing drone intercrop 2018 experimental

2018 drone version

sowing drone intercrop 2018 testing

2018 drone version

Maïsadour and Vivadour, are agricultural cooperatives, and their innovation joint-subsidiary Ovalie promotes new ideas and enhances the competitivity of agricultural and industrial activities of the two groups.

Maïsadour is also a top European seed provider of corn and oil seeds. Their research department is powered by RnDExp™ breeding software by Doriane. In addition to the Experimentation and Breeding module, the automatisation portion of RnDExp™ enables users to work securely (To do list, triggering of actions on certain dates, validation of results) allowing also a gain in productivity for their teams.

Alain Taillardat – Research director, MAISADOUR : 
« The performance and ease of transition to the new version really hit the mark. Our own hybrid breeding process has been perfectly modeled in RnDExp™. The cooperation between technical teams and Doriane was very effective, and the project was completed on-time and on-budget.

Many thanks to Stéphane Ballas from Ovalie Inovation ( Productions Animales Vivadour and Maïsadour group) and Patrice Rosier from Reflets Du Monde for all the photos and explanations given to write this article !

Other sources :

 - Images and details from Christophe Van Veen's article (Radio France) on France Bleu website









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