More than 90 percent of forage stand failures are due to one of three reasons: 1) low soil pH, 2) loose soil, or 3) seeding too deep. Each cause of stand failure is preventable, says Dan Undersander, University of Wisconsin extension forage agronomist. Use this advice:
• Achieve proper soil pH. Alfalfa needs soil with a pH of 6.8. Other legumes need a pH of 6.0 to 6.3. Apply lime in adequate amounts one year prior to seeding to raise soil pH to optimum levels.
• Ensure a firm seedbed. Level and pack the soil surface prior to seeding. “If you stand on the field and your shoe sinks more than ¼ inch into the soil, it is too loose for seeding,” Undersander says.
• Use proper seeding depth. Legume seed should be placed ¼ to ½ inch deep in most soils (¾ inch depth in sandy soils).
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