Figure 1. A well-prepared seedbed is firm and free of weeds.
It is important to use a good seeder that can be calibrated accurately and that distributes the seed uniformly. A solid stand of alfalfa or red clover will out-yield a ragged stand and will compete with weeds more effectively.
The double--corrugated--roller seeder is an excellent choice for forage crops. It drops seed uniformly between two corrugated rollers. The first roller provides additional firmness to the seedbed, and the second roller pushes the seeds into contact with the soil. Most of the seeds are covered lightly, which is desirable.
For band seeding-another good method-a grain drill with a legume seed box is used. As shown in Figure 2, hoses from the legume box carry the seed to the soil surface, trailing the drill discs. Use the drill to place 50 to 100 pounds of phosphorus fertilizer per acre about 1 to 2 inches below the soil surface. Place the seed directly above this fertilizer band. For best results, packer wheels should follow directly over the seed, pressing it into the soil surface.
Figure 2. Placing high-phosphate fertilizer and seed with a grain drill.
Which is the better seeding method? In the Illinois studies summarized in Table 2, the band seeding method resulted in yields equal to or slightly greater than those obtained with broadcast seedings. Soils that are low in readily available phosphorus have produced better yields with band seeding. Low available phosphorus may result from low natural fertility (as at the Brownstown test site), inadequate fertilization, low pH, or cold, wet soil (as at the DeKalb site).
_____________________________________________________________________ Location and Average annual yield, number of trials tons of dry matter per acre ________________________________________ Bond seeding Broadcast seeding _____________________________________________________________________ DeKalb, two trials.............. 4.57 4.48 Urbana, three trials.............5.60 5.60 Brownstown, two trials...........3.11 2.92 _____________________________________________________________________