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…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,…

…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…

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…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…

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…

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…

Broadcasting by air: Cover crops can be applied from a broadcast seeder mounted on an airplane. This practice works well for larger seeds like rye and wheat, but is not recommended for small clover or grass seeds. Broadcasting by air allows for the overseeding of an existing crop or for planting when soils are too wet for ground seeding, although seed germination might be slower and a higher seeding rate may be needed.

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:

Seeding Methods

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.

Broadcasting by ground: This is the most popular and accurate seeding method and may be done using spinners, drop tubes or air pressure. The most critical factor is accurately metering seed before it is spread. Make sure the seeding pattern is appropriate for complete and even ground cover. Different seeds have varying spread patterns based on their respective weights, and heavier seeds spread further than lighter seeds. This can cause difficulties when heavier and lighter seed mixtures are applied. Broadcast seeders may be mounted on ATV’s, tractors, tillage tools or other implements.

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:

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Each establishment method has advantages and disadvantages. Select the best method that fits your system and equipment that is readily available.

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.

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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.”

The most common seeding method is drill seeding. This is the most often used reliable method because of seed placement and good seed to soil contact. A second method involves using a row crop planter. Row crop planters usually result in the best cover crop establishment due to the good seed soil contact, depth control and consistent seed spacing. Other methods include broadcast with or without shallow tillage, slurry manure seeding and frost seeding.

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).