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Alfalfa grown for seed on drylands is planted in rows, usually two to three feet (60 to 90 centimetres) apart; cultivation between rows is required during the first year. Alfalfa is also grown for forage where favourable. This practice builds nitrogen and organic…

…by the use of pathogen-free seed grown in arid regions. Examples of diseases controlled by this method include bacterial blights of beans and peas, black rot of crucifers, and bacterial spot and canker of tomato. Seed treatment with hot water at about 50 °C (120 °F) is also effective for…

…best time and depth of seeding and planting is an effective cultural practice that reduces disease impact. Shallow planting of potatoes may help to prevent Rhizoctonia canker. Early fall seeding of winter wheat may be unfavourable for seedling infection by wheat bunt teliospores. Cool-temperature crops can be grown in soils…

dryland farming

…plants may be propagated by seeding, grafting, layering, or cutting. In seeding, seeds are usually planted in either a commercial or home nursery in which intensive care can be given for several years until the plants are of a size suitable for transplanting on the desired site. In soil layering,…

Growth, flowering habits, and light requirements on the one hand, and management problems on the other, determine the most satisfactory planting plan for a fruit- and nut-growing enterprise. There is a trend toward use of dwarfing stocks, growth control chemicals, or…

Drilling: This is another good cover crop establishment method, as most drills are equipped with a legume/grass seed box. Drilling works well for metering small seeds (use the standard drill box for larger seeds) and gives good placement and seed-to-soil contact. Drilling can be especially successful in no-till management systems.

Start by choosing a cover crop and a method for its application (see specific cover crop information sheets for recommendations). Some methods and equipment might include:

There are many variations on these methods. Watch different equipment in action on farms and at farm shows. Every piece of equipment is different, and individual farm needs depend on the management system in use.

Seeder Calibration

Frost-seeding: Seeding a cover crop into an established crop in late winter to very early spring. Example: Seeding red clover into wheat in March.

Accurate seeding equipment calibration is essential for applying cover crop seeds. Calibrate a seeder each time a different type of seed is used and routinely during the season. Use the following steps as a guide to calibrating a broadcast seeder:

Incorporation: Cover crop seeds produce better stands with shallow soil incorporation. Excellent results can be obtained by combining broadcast seeding with a cultivator or other incorporating tillage tool. The combination chosen depends on when seeding takes place and what management practices are in effect. Most cover crop seeds are very small and do not need much soil cover, just good seed-to-soil contact.

Here are a few helpful hints:

This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit To contact an expert in your area, visit, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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MSU Extension releases new videos on different seeding methods for establishing cover crops, and information on how to calibrate planting equipment for uniform planting rates.

The Michigan State University Extension cover crop team is releasing several videos to help farmers incorporate cover crops into their cropping systems. The videos provide overview of different topics and suggested recommendations for successful establishment. Below are videos on “Seeding Equipment for Cover Crops” and “Calibrating a Drill for Cover Crop Planting.”

These are all factors to consider for successful establishment of a cover crop.

If you would like to learn more about cover crops, how they can benefit your farm, or to find a cover crop educator, visit the Michigan State University Extension, MSU Extension Cover Crops website.

Farmers can choose from a number of methods for seeding cover crops. Just like selecting the best species or mixture, selecting the seeding method that is best suited for your operation is one of the keys for successful cover crop establishment. When selecting a seeding method, consider your establishment window and answer the following questions: