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Direct Drilling pasture and seed-sowing - good small-scale tool

 
Annie Hope
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We are wanting to over-sow 8 acres of pasture with various seeds, and then to sow 1-2 acres on a regular basis with various crops, including grains and seeds.

We were wondering if there was any reliable hand tool or tool that could be pulled behind a quad bike or ride-on mower to do this.
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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There are for a price. Look at the tools they sell to hunters for food plots. A small no-till drill is 5-10 thousand dollars and up, new.

Small old farm seed drills are under a thousand and can be pulled by a quad (they have trip lift because they were made for tractors before hydraulics). The small ones that can be pulled with a quad are MORE expensive, because of the hunters. They were made for tilled ground, but can be made to work as overseeders with proper procedures and work--you need to seed when the existing crop is short (just mowed or grazed) and possibly follow with another tool for improved seed-to-soil contact (chain harrow, etc.)

 
David Dodge
Posts: 34
Location: College Station, TX
bee trees woodworking
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My local tool rental store has one of the deer hunter food plot seeders and I just used it and planted some pig forage on an acre to test the system. Cost me $120. I pulled it with my tractor but it also had a detachable trailer hitch for use with a four-wheeler or UTV. This unit had a 4' wide disc followed by a spring tine harrow followed by a heavy roller and finally a section of flexible grating, like really heavy chain link fence. The last two sections are on a pivot to keep them out of use until you need them. I used it to really break up existing pasture after mowing but it left clumps of grass that I didn't feel like removing. I then tried it on another section of existing pasture 12-15" tall with only one pass so it didn't expose the dirt at all really. Both plots are coming up nicely but I think the one pass plot might have the edge and it was a lot less work. The hopper holds probably 100 pounds of seed and has an auger that keeps the seed evenly distributed. The seed outlet size is controlled by a manual lever. There is a wired control switch that you use to turn the seed auger on/off and the end of the control wiring has battery clamps that you attach to your engine battery. The controls also allow you to raise the wheel height of the machine so you can set the cutting depth. For the money I am extremely happy with the results and I don't have to buy the equipment and perform maintenance. Another thing I liked was the spring tines were removable which helped lessen the grass clumps. I'll be using this a lot more in the future but probably only twice a year so it pays to rent. Check out the places that rent to contractors, not the hardware stores.
 
Scott Strough
Posts: 299
Location: Oklahoma
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R Scott wrote:There are for a price. Look at the tools they sell to hunters for food plots. A small no-till drill is 5-10 thousand dollars and up, new.

Small old farm seed drills are under a thousand and can be pulled by a quad (they have trip lift because they were made for tractors before hydraulics). The small ones that can be pulled with a quad are MORE expensive, because of the hunters. They were made for tilled ground, but can be made to work as overseeders with proper procedures and work--you need to seed when the existing crop is short (just mowed or grazed) and possibly follow with another tool for improved seed-to-soil contact (chain harrow, etc.)

Agreed. I priced one of the best at 6000 new.

I did my sweet corn last year by hand though. I had a dib and just made a hole for each seed. Obviously a lot more work than using a seed drill. The corn did great though. A bit lower germination, but good enough.

I also plant tomatoes in pasture. Procedure is this:
1) Mow the field at 3 inches (or graze if you have animals)
2) Mow again right to the ground 5 days later in 4 feet strips with 4 feet strips left unmowed between. (this is the 2nd bite principle in reverse)
3) Roll out large round bales of hay over rolled out paper in strips 4 feet wide on the twice mowed strips only.
4) Use a sod plugger or a bulb planter to take out small plugs of sod from the mulched strips 2-3 feet apart in double rows.
5) Set your seedlings and fill the holes with compost.
6) Stake if you used indeterminates, or just let bush tomatoes sprawl if using determinates.
7) Mow every few weeks between the rows. But you want the sod between rows relatively tall, so not too short or too much.
Harvest your tomatoes!

Now the interesting thing with tomatoes grown this way is that eventually the pasture will break through the paper and mulch. However, the tomatoes should be dominate by then. So instead of being "weeds" they function as a supporting companion crop for the tomatoes. Then after the tomatoes are done, they are a pre-planted cover crop that will be just pasture for the following year. Mow it or graze it just like any other pasture. It's a good way to rejuvenate a pasture and get a high dollar cash crop at the same time.
 
Kris schulenburg
Posts: 112
Location: Henry County Ky Zone 6
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Had some fair luck planting oats, fodder radishes, austrian peas and wheat by throwing out the seed and then mowing short to mulch in the seed. It does not come up well in clumps of grass. We have also had good rain.
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Annie Hope
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Thanks for this. I am in New Zealand, and so this idea of deer feedlots is new to me. I have tried googling a few terms, but with no luck - only heaps of information on why to plant feedlots. Can anyone give me the names of stores that might sell this equipment that I can look up.
 
David Dodge
Posts: 34
Location: College Station, TX
bee trees woodworking
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Google foodplot seeder or planter. I get dozens of hits for many different manufacturers, mostly US though
 
alex Keenan
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I created a little blog on high calorie gardening I am working on this fall and winter.
The subject of seed sowing tool and transplanting tool were of interest to me so I did some research and blogged about it.
I think this may help you. I use some of these tools myself.

http://highcaloriegardening.blogspot.com/2014/09/single-seed-jab-planters-for-planting.html

http://highcaloriegardening.blogspot.com/2014/09/manual-transplanting-tools-part-one-of.html
http://highcaloriegardening.blogspot.com/2014/09/manual-transplanting-tools-part-2-of-2.html

 
R Scott
Posts: 3305
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Um, sorry. Most of what I wrote was US (and maybe Canada) based. Hard to translate to NZ.

What tools do you have? Tractor, quad, truck, etc.

I over seeded 30 acres with a lawnmower tractor, lawn fertilizer spreader, and old bed spring as a drag. But that had been burned.

You can broadcast that much by hand, you just need a way to work it into the ground.
 
Kris schulenburg
Posts: 112
Location: Henry County Ky Zone 6
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Just used a regular push lawn mower set as low as possible for an 1/8 of an acre, put the seed out first so it would be walked on and mulched. I planted cold weather annuals for domestic turkeys but i think it would work for clover or grass (small) seeds. At least better than just broadcasting.
I am going to seed more area with clovers and the finish mower on the tractor (they sell mowers with their own motor for 4 wheelers here).
Just thinking you might want a mower anyway, it would be no special equipment.

The other thing you might think about in your part of the world (not knowing your rain situation) and before you get infrastructure up, is hire someone with a Key-line plow to plant on contour. Would guess it is easier to find some one with the equipment in NZ as it was invented Australia.

Might want to read Water for Every Farm by P.A. Yeomen
and Fertility Pastures by Turner Newman

The website is journeytoforever.org for Fertility Pastures in the Small Farm Library

If you google Key-line plow you will get lots of info.
 
I will suppress my every urge. But not this shameless plug:
The stocking stuffer game for all your Permaculture companions
http://www.FoodForestCardGame.com
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