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Firm Seed Bed
I have heard several times on this site that a "firm seed bed" will help the seeds you plant germinate quickly and out compete the weeds.
What exactly does "firm" seed bed mean? I usually double disk my fall plot, then use a spring tooth harrow to smooth out the soil. When I am done with that procedure, I would not consider my soil "firm," but rather somewhat "loose." I usually drill into the soil after that procedure, but have tried roller packing too. I have lighter sandy loam soils. Even when I run a packer over the soil, I would not consider it "firm." I consider the soil "firm" after a solid 1" rain.
I might be over thinking this. Is there a simple test like "firm" for example: you can't push your pointer finger straight down into the ground more than a 1/2 inch or something simple explanation like that?
As soon as I roll my cultipacker over it, I consider it firm. That does not mean I can walk on it or roll a bowling ball across it, it just means it is fairly level and very slightly compressed at the very top of the soil. When planting clover without the use of my precision seeder, I will generally follow these instructions:
- spread lime and fertilizer on top of the soil
- Disk or roto-til the soil mixing in the lime and fertilizer
- Run a cultipacker, roller, or just drive over the dirt with my tractor or quad
- Spread the small seed, like clover or brassicas
- pack it again one last time
This method works great for clover and small seeds. I just did it last weekend and I know it will come op perfectly.
What Pat said. I always use a cultipacker last, an 8' Kasco brand. With nature's timely help I almost always get decent results.
I'm about to join the cultipacker crowd guys ! I looked high and low for a close one, but this is mostly cattle country, not farm country. I finally decided to buy a new one, and it's on the truck headed my way. I bought one with a three point hitch, so I can load it on the front of my trailer in case I need to haul my disc also. I've had a nice shop made roller for awhile, but it's hard to get a food plot slick enough to roll. I've been using a tire drag for years and it does well after discing, but I'm about to get into some throw and mow and I think the cultipacker will come in handy for that.
I read once that a firm seedbed was one that when you walk across it, you only sink about a half inch or so. I would consider that firm, that's generally what my drag leaves me after draghing twice.
After I work my ground up, I will go over it once with my cultimulcher. It's kind of a combination cultipacker and springtooth. I can set the springtooth depth anywhere from 0" to 6"-8" deep. It does an awesome job of leveling and firming the seedbed. On corn/beans, I just plant into the prepped soil. On clover/brassicas, after seeding, I'll go over it again with just the packer wheels. It's by far, my favorite food plot implement.
I dont think there is a way to gauge it, other than just experience. You just want it firm enough that when you drill you get an even depth with your drill. Dont want to be drilling and part of it at 1 inch deep and part at 3 inches. the more firm the soil, the more even of a seed depth you can get. but the main thing is have it firm enough to get good soil to seed contact. and i mean soil in contact with entire seed. seed sitting in air space under ground isnt good for germination
I know this is about as redneck as you can get but I used this for several years to attain a firm seed bed after disking and leveling with a harrow and it worked really well. I have since upgraded to an old truck hood weighted with concrete blocks but I don't have any photos...
Yup, that is big time redneck right there...
I'm not quite as refined or large scale as some of you guys Pat ;^)
Mike, is that a Ford or a Chevy door ? Can't be a Dodge, or it would have worn through by now. Does it have to be red, or will any color be ok ? :-)
It's a Chevy but a Ford would probably work too. I agree that it's best to avoid Dodge.
In my experience, red is best because you can find it when you go looking for it in the weeds ... ;^)
The red paint is a good idea, I recently lost a harrow section, I'm hoping to find it in the spring and not with the mower.
Thats funny.....i used to uae a hood(i think it was a hyundai). Now i just drive over it with the tractor which works very well just takes time. Id like a cultipacker but they are expensive to only use 1-2 times a year
I joined the cultipacker group last year. Used it today plant radish-turnip mix. Ran the cultipacker before and after planting. This was on tilled soil.