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The importance of soil-to-seed contact

by David Phelps

It could be said that the most critical factor influencing germination is soil-to-seed contact. Different sowing and seeding techniques are suited to different situations. For example, where the landscape is level and relatively free of obstacles, conventional, minimum-till and no-till should be adequate. Where obstacles pose a problem, aerial seeding and seed broadcasting may be more effective methods to achieve seed dispersal.

Conventional sowing

Conventional sowing often delivers superior pasture establishment, if weeds are controlled and soil nutrient levels are adequate. This is due to improved soil-to-seed contact and better germination.

A fine, firm seedbed maximises soil-to-seed contact. Achieve this with cultivation and the use of harrows. Press wheels or harrows may also be used after sowing, usually in combination with the seeder. Cultivation can result in a significant germination of weeds. Take care to control these weeds to minimise competition with the establishing pasture.

Minimum till and no-till

Minimum and no-till sowing can be effective. They offer the added advantage of preserving soil structure and minimising the risk of erosion. They can also reduce weed germination.

In mimimum or no-till, soil-to-seed contact is more challenging than with conventional sowing. Check equipment regularly for seed and fertiliser placement and to ensure press wheels are assisting soil-to-seed contact.


Broadcasting is suited to areas where other sowing techniques are impractical. This may include timbered country and extensive grazing systems, where pasturem seed is distributed by air or from a vehicle. Broadcasting is sometimes done in combination with fertiliser.

Soil-to-seed contact is often poor with broadcasting, leading to low seed germination. When broadcast with fertiliser, the seed-to-fertiliser placement is also poor. Consider fertiliser selection to avoid seed damage.

Regardless of the sowing method you use, always seek to use the freshest certified seed available and follow agronomist advice regarding seed inoculation and pest control.

For more expert insights Valley Seeds experienced agronomist team, contact your regional sales manager.

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