Monday, February 28, 2011
Looking for a low-tech and low-cost method of forage improvement?
Frost-seeding is a simple method that is inexpensive and relatively simple to do. The seeds need to be placed into the soil in mid-spring, when the daytime temperatures are above freezing and the nighttime temperatures are below freezing. This daily freezing and thawing, which shrinks and swells the soil, works the seeds into the soil. Eventually, when the temperatures become consistently warmer, the seeds can germinate in the soil and begin the process of establishment. This is low-tech and low-cost because all that is needed is something to spread the seeds with and the actual seeds. Most frost-seeding is done with legumes, either clover or alfalfa, however this method does not appear to work very well for grasses.
The best time to start frost-seeding is from late February through early March.
In order for frost-seeding to work, there are four steps:
The first is that the seed has to reach the soil surface. If you have an old hayfield with thick vegetation or an abandoned field with a lot of litter then this process will not work.
The second step is that the seed must also work its way into the soil. Timeliness is crucial. If you seed too early the seed may die and if you seed too late then there is not enough frost to do the work.
The third and fourth step is that the new seedling must be able to compete with the plants already in place and you must be seeding the right plant into the right field or pasture to be successful.
The Outdoor Experts