Published Sep 27, 2013

What to do if your seed drill doesn’t have settings for your seed?

By Stefan Gailans


JD750 drill


Your seed drill may not have settings for a particular crop. Or perhaps the settings have been lost or are unintelligible.

This issue recently came up on the PFI Cover Crops email list and Francis Thicke offered this solution:

“You can jack up the drive wheel of the drill, measure the circumference
of the drive wheel and then turn the drive wheel by hand enough rounds to
simulate a tenth of an acre (or any area) of planting based on the width of
the drill while catching and weighing the seed dropped from the drill (you
don’t have to put seed in all the hoppers — just a few drop tubes, and
then correct for the drill width).  That is a lot of work, but I have done
that before when I had no reference point for a new seed.”


Additionally, this publication from Utah State University Extension provides some helpful equations and examples that build on Francis’ comments:

Don’t have a seed drill?

You may be able to borrow a seed drill from your local NRCS.  In many cases, your local NRCS office has a drill that they use for implementing different types of conservation measures (grass strips, buffers, etc.).   This may not apply to all NRCS offices, so be sure to contact your local office and inquire.

Using a seed drill is an excellent method for seeding a cover crop and there is no time like the present to start thinking about planting as we’ve recently entered autumn, and the corn and soybean harvest will soon be upon us.