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Broadcasting seed

 
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Is broadcasting seed without animal impact or a roller/seed press a waste of money? I spread a good amount of seed last fall without incorporating it into the soil in any way and I didn't have much of anything come up. I don't have access to any kind of seeding equipment and I am trying to get a somewhat poor pasture in a little better shape for animals next year. Any suggestions?
 
pollinator
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If you aren't doing that big of an area you can do what my father in law did. He broadcast sewed his pasture and had one of his kids follow behind him with a piece of fencing with some weight on top of it. It brought the dirt up over the seed.
 
gardener
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Elle, sounds like a "harrowing " experience!

 
Lab Ant
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Have you considered using seedballs?
 
Kris Arbanas
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I am a big fan of Fukuoka and I have considered seed balls. The issue is finding the red clay powder. I don't believe they sell this anywhere in my area. I imagine it would be fairly expensive to import large amounts of this clay.
 
pollinator
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If your ground gets frozen, you may consider broadcasting your seed to work collaboratively with frost/thaw heave. When the topsoil freezes at night and thaws during the day it opens small fissures in the topsoil that is great for broadcast seeding without having to harrow or disk it. I'll include a link to an informative article about frost seeding below. But, the idea is that due to the cracking topsoil your forb/grass seed will make soil contact without having to use mechanical means to make that happen. It dramatically reduces fuel needs and reduces compaction because you're not making multiple passes with heavy equipment and you're not exposing the sod which evaporates its precious moisture. I know of some folks who broadcast seed when there is a thin covering of snow and when it melts and the freeze/thaw happens, the seed makes contact with the soil and germinates. I believe R Scott, a frequent visitor to these forums, is practicing this.

http://www.extension.org/pages/64559/frost-seeding:-a-cheap-alternative-to-improve-hay-and-pasture-land#.VQhC1Y7F98E
 
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Location: Boulder, CO
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Dan,

This is very interesting indeed!

I was considering some way to encase the seed balls in ice so that when the spring weather melts the ice the moisture breaks the clay and the seed germinates....

perhaps a seed-snowball?

maybe some good ideas but practicality also has to be considered and simply broadcasting on top of a late winter snow might be the way to go...

Also, on reading the article its suggesting bare soil works best for seed to soil contact...since a lot of permaculture farms won't be wanting to expose bare soil (weed pressure etc.) Maybe, as the article points out, cattle tromping around can help seed to soil contact. In fact, using cattle to gently work seed balls into the ground sounds interesting... seed balls aren't likely to fall into the cracks in the soil from heaving though

I think there definitely could be a proper sequence of these techniques for my situation and climate. Great stuff!
 
Dan Grubbs
pollinator
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Chris,

You may want to reach out to R Scott in this forum who has personal experience with frost/snow seeding. He is a great resource to pick his brain on many applications of permaculture in a real-live setting where he's making his living from his farm.
 
Posts: 121
Location: Brighton, Michigan
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Like mentioned before, a bed spring, gate, log or anything like that is really important to use to increase soil contact. Years ago I bought a new cultipacker as it was so important to pack the soil after broadcasting, it increased germination double. Frost seeding is somewhat successful with some species depending on soil type,species, and number of freeze and thaw cycles that occur but it is only about a forth or less as effective as direct seeding and clear seeding at best. I frost seed about 50 acres every other year but on pasture only, it is kinda waste of time on hay ground.
 
pollinator
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Frost seeding does work great for me and my midwest climate. Put it down before a couple inches of snow, or even better when there is an inch on the ground and another two or three on the way. I don't know if it would work in the PNW, doesn't freeze enough and the seed may rot. Won't work in the north unless it is a mild winter, the ground is frozen solid and the seed can't work its way in.

Now I often don't get great results the first year, but a surprising amount of seed germinates the second year. But I don't have a problem with seeds rotting in the ground most years.

I don't have the right equipment, either, and can't afford a fancy no till drill. So I broadcast seed. Frost seed, broadcast before the animals go in a rotation paddock, before I mow, before a good rain (enough to pound it in but not so much it will wash away), whenever. My drag is a cattle panel and some old tires, but it is usually too wet to use it when I am seeding.

 
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We rent no till drill from NRCS for $10 an acre. Many rental places rent them too.
 
R Scott
pollinator
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Jennifer Smith wrote:We rent no till drill from NRCS for $10 an acre. Many rental places rent them too.



Not around here

Plus I usually need to be seeding when it is too wet to be working in the field with machinery. So I get lots of exercise walking:)

 
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