- Not planting on freshly disturbed soil. One of the most common mistakes is not planting on a properly prepared seedbed. This includes tilling the soil to at least 6" in-deep, working out all clumps of soil, and planting on freshly disturbed soil.
- Lack of a firm seedbed. This does not mean compacting the soil or not preparing the seedbed. It has been found that rolling/pressing the seed and firming the seedbed improves germination and water usage during limited rainfall. Using a roller before seeding shows better performance. Note: most seeding equipment incorporates 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 ensure proper depth placement.
- Amount of time needed for the establishment of seed. Many permanent kinds of grass 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 seeds have hard or dormant seeds that will not germinate for a long period. Additionally, the plant needs to establish it’s root system before usage begins.
- Proper watering. If irrigation is possible, do not flood the seed. Keep seed moist at all times, meaning 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 the 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 crosswind (wind out of North, plant 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 the seeder gate at 1/4 open and run seeder until you run out of the seed and stop. If you are applying too much seed, make a small adjustment to the closing date. If you are applying too little, make a small adjustment to open the 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). The formula is distance X width of drill = square feet. Then by 43,560 (sq. ft. in an acre) = acres in the first round.
- Place sufficient seed in the drill for the first round. Place the drill setting at 1/4 open and check at least 4 times in the first round. Open or close setting base on usage.
- Allow 5% additional seed for a field with corners.