- Not planting on fresh disturbed soil. One of the most common mistakes is not planting on a properly prepared seed bed. This includes tilling the soil to at least 6" in depth, working out all clumps of soil, and planting on freshly disturbed soil.
- Lack of a firm seed bed. This does not mean compacting the soil or not preparing the seed bed. It has been found that rolling/pressing the seed and firming the seed bed improves germination and water usage during limited rainfall. Using a roller before seeding shows better performance. Note: most seeding equipment incorporate some type of roller/packer.
- Planting depth. There is a saying that "seven times the diameter of any seed is the maximum depth that any seed should be planted". Planting depth is the largest error made in seeding. Check your equipment and insure proper depth placement.
- Amount of time needed for establishment of seed. Many permanent grasses can take one full year before grazing or heavy turf usage is recommended. While under laboratory conditions seed will germinate in 5 to 20 days; real world conditions vary. Many seed have hard or dormant seed that will not germinate for a long period of time. Additionally the plant needs to establish it’s root system before usage begins.
- Proper watering. If irrigation is possible do not flood seed. Keep seed moist at all times this means watering several times for short periods vs. one long watering. Also, please note that irrigation of any kind does not produce the same results as rain. Irrigation will take more time than rainfall.
Calibrating your equipment first requires knowing amount of seed you are planting per acre or hector. Follow your seeders instructions if possible. If you don’t have instructions the following guideline will help:
- Broadcast cross wind (wind out of North seed going east to west).
- Broadcast width will depend on seed type.
- Always drive in the same gear, rpm, and mph.
- Measure off some small plots that are the same sizes. Put the correct amount in the seeder for one plot. Place seeder gate at 1/4 open and run seeder until you run out of seed and stop. If you are applying too much seed make a small adjustment to closing gate. If you are applying too little make a small adjustment to open gate. Continue this process over the next two plots or until you feel comfortable.
- Measure distance around the field (1/10 mile on odometer equals 528 feet). Formula is distance X width of drill = square feet. Then by 43,560 (sq. ft. in an acre) = acres in first round.
- Place sufficient seed in drill for first round. Place drill setting at 1/4 open and check at least 4 times in first round. Open or close setting base on usage.
- If field has several corners allow 5% additional seed for corners.