While none of us know exactly when the break will be this year, we thought it was useful to look at the key factors to consider when dry seeding in case this ends up being on the cards for a number of farmers.
Dry seeding of course allows you to manage a large cropping program more easily by getting some of your crop in earlier. It can also help with allocating machinery and labour over the duration of the seeding season. However, this of course can mean dealing with emerging weeds in earlier sown paddocks at the same time as you are trying to put the rest of your cropping program in.
There are a number of key risks to consider when dry seeding that most of us are familiar with. These include wind erosion and damage to the integrity of cropping rows as well as the possibility an absence of follow up rain. This can result in fertiliser toxicity and seed that loses vigour and can’t get out of the ground. This is a greater consideration in years like 2023 when we’ve just come off a high yielding season that took a fair bit out of the soil and where we don’t have subsoil moisture for opening rains to join up with. The absence of subsoil moisture this year might also see some farmers choosing to sow at shallower depth.
If you are going to dry seed, we recommend you preference paddocks with good soil structure and the capacity to hold moisture and avoid paddocks with non-wetting soils.
Stubble paddocks are also a better option for dry seeding, with pasture paddocks definitely better to leave until later in the cropping program following a break.
Also, clean paddocks with a low weed seed bank should be selected for dry seeding over dirty paddocks. Managing weeds is of course a numbers game, and clean paddocks will at least give you half a chance of being able to control weeds later on.
Due to the lack of summer rain during summer this year, this season represents a good opportunity to use soil wetters like SE14 and Soak-N-Wet especially with crops like canola and lupins that need a longer growing season. These products are applied at seeding and help with getting the crop out of the ground as quickly as possible and with achieving the best possible germination.
Pre-emergent chemical (or a combination of pre-emergent chemicals) will also be needed when dry seeding to give your crop the best chance and to take the pressure off post-emergent chemicals later on. We can help with the best pre-emergent chemicals (or pre-emergent chemical combination) for different crops and soil types.
Finally, good quality seed and higher seeding rates are critically important in a dry seeding environment to ensure that the crop has the energy it needs to get out of the ground and to facilitate better germination rates. We recommend adding 5% to your usual seeding rate as an insurance policy and to help the crop compete against weeds, especially in non-wetting soils.
While this year we haven’t had summer rains providing subsoil moisture, farmers have used the opportunity to get lime and gypsum out and into soils on farm. Every year of course always provides its own unique challenges. If we can be of assistance at all please call FarmCo’s agronomy team on 1300 327 626, we’re always around to help.