Firm Seedbeds For Planting Grasses And Alfalfa
Before planting alfalfa or grass this spring, take time to ensure that your seedbed is firm and ready to nurture seedlings.
Walk acoss the field, looking back at your footprints. Do you sink in more deeply than the soles of your shoes or boots? If so, your seedbed may be too soft.
Another testing method uses a basketball. Try to bounce the basketball in your field. It should be easy to bounce on a firm seedbed; if you can't bounce it easily, don't plant yet. Firm the seedbed with a flat harrow, a roller, or maybe even irrigate it.
Why so much effort for a seedbed? When small seeds germinate, their first roots must come into immediate contact with moisture and nutrients in the soil if those seedlings are to survive and grow rapidly. Loose seedbeds can have up to 50% dead airspace in the seeding zone. First roots that emerge into that dead airspace often do not live, and your stand will suffer. A firm seedbed reduces this dead airspace, which helps you get thicker stands that develop more rapidly.