With fall on the way, I decided to plant some fields to feed wildlife here on our Texas farm. I bought some sacks of milo, deer corn and black oil sunflower seeds off the shelf of my local farm store. With rain falling frequently, this mix should make nice stands for wildlife to forage when the weather turns.
These fields aren’t a financial investment, so I’m not inclined to pull out the seed drill as I would when planting a cash crop. Also, with the frequent rains, I want to quickly get fields seeded between showers. So I pulled out my secondhand broadcast seeder instead, which runs off my tractor’s PTO to spread seed around the fields.
Before running the seeder over the field, my son and I first plowed the ground. Then, we ran over that plowed soil with a harrow to break up big clods of dirt.
If you have tight, clayey soil like I do, you’ll benefit from dragging plowed soil, too. It breaks up clods into good, fine dirt without robbing moisture the way over-plowing would.
Spread Seeds with a Broadcast Spreader
When you broadcast seeds the way we are, you simply spread the seeds on top of prepared soil. The broadcast spreader simply controls distribution so that we get a good seed-to-soil contact. But as it will throw seed about 30 feet out, it allows us to seed a field quicklyâ€”between rain showers, for example.
One downside of using a broadcast spreader is the amount of seed required. Because the method yields a low germination rate, I have to use a lot of seed compared to what I’d use with a seed drill. In this task, for example, we broadcasted 250 pounds to cover 3 acres.
Broadcasting seeds this way, we simply mimic Mother Nature. In nature, plants drop a bunch of seeds, only some of which germinate. When we broadcast, we do the same thing.
After spreading your seeds, drag the field again. This helps the seeds find their way into the prepared soil.
Mother Nature was on our side with this project. We received a few long, slow rains after seeding that helped break down the soil even more.
And as you can see in the video above, I got a good germination rate from spreading my seed with the broadcast spreader. True, it’s a random process compared to a row-crop style. But for wildlife feed (and, later, organic matter to till into the soil)â€”not a harvest cropâ€”the broadcast spreader was the right tool for the job.