Our Territory Managers oversee a lot of seeding…it’s what they do, they are our experts in the field.  And when we asked our Territory Managers for just one piece of advice, the “silver bullet” for our readers going into the 2016 seeding season was…Please Don’t Speed in a Seeding Zone.  If your Seeding Speed is too fast, it can most certainly impact your emergence and cause reductions in not only your yields but the quality of your crop [1].


What is the right seeding speed?

There are many factors that can play into finding the perfect seeding speed; these are soil type, soil moisture, an openers design, soil flow around the opener, the previous crop residue, drill spacing, rocks, etc [1].

The only way to truly know what speed you should be going is to do a seeding speed trial on your fields.  Check several rows.  If your furrows don’t seem to be closing properly, the soil doesn’t seem packed well over your seed, you see signs of stepping /dirt throw to adjacent shanks, or you have a poor looking field finish, this is a sign to Slow Down!

Effects of Seeding Speed

As seeding speed increases, so does the soil displacement and flow of soil around the opener, especially for shallower seeding depths.  This means that with smaller seeds or shallower seeding, keeping as close to the 3 mph mark will render the best results.  The result is an even flow of soil around the opener rather than the soil being thrown too far off to the side, and most importantly direct seed and soil contact.


The Consequences of Speeding in a Seeding Zone [1]: 

  • Uneven Seeding Depths

When seed is placed unevenly, some seeds will end up deeper than others.  Those that are placed deeper will be susceptible to cooler soil conditions, pests, disease, slower emergence, and more energy reserve is used for the crop to emerge.

  • Uneven Emergence

To spray a crop with herbicide all crops should be at a safe growth stage to withstand an application.  Due to uneven emergence of crops, crops could be at many different growth stages delaying an important herbicide application.

  • Uneven Harvest

Pre-harvest applications and swathing become more difficult due to the uneven growth.


Increasing Fan Air Speed to Compensate for Speeding May Not Be the Answer

Some producers will simply increase the speed of the fan on their air drill in order to increase their ground speed but avoid plugging fertilizer or seed runs.  While this does improve your seed placement if you are set on going at a high speed, be aware that the high velocity of the seed and bounce will impact your germination negatively.


Written and Published by Jessica Kohls, BSc, PgCE – Dutch Soil Biologist