How to buy - Seeding machines

Look at where the seed is to be applied and the required rates before choosing a system.

Very occasionally it may suffice to simply throw a few handfuls of grass seed onto the ground but it usually means the birds have a good breakfast and germination is patchy. Generally, some form of mechanical device is needed to ensure the sowing of grass seed is accurate and cost-effective.
With grass seed as expensive as it is, any method of sowing must be accurate in its rates of application so that seed is not wasted. It must also be accurate in terms of seed placement so that maximum soil-seed contact is provided and germination is encouraged. A good seeder could save you money by being accurate in the use and placement of seed, but don’t underestimate the importance of good seedbed preparation where necessary.

Choosing the right system
There is a wide range of seeding systems on the market. In order to choose one that suits your needs, you should consider where the seed is being applied and what volumes are likely to be undertaken. Most importantly, it must have the ability to sow the seeds you need. Contractors hoping to sow fine seeds one day and coarser ryegrass seeds the next will need a machine that can be quickly and easily adjusted from one seed type to another. Also note that not all seeders are capable of sowing the extremely fine bentgrass seeds.
Sowing seed into bare soil will require some form of grass seed drill that creates a tilth and buries the seed — but not too deeply. Seed should not be placed more than five millimetres into the ground or it is likely to die away.
Overseeders, on the other hand, are designed to apply seed to an existing sward for the purposes of renovating worn areas or to bring about a species exchange. Such machines fall into three main categories; those that disturb the surface, those that do little disturbance and those that create a dent or plant pot into which the seed is dropped — usually prior to top-dressing.
Sisis UK sales manager Keith Vertigan, based in the company’s Macclesfield headquarters, explains the differences: Generally, you can afford to disturb the surface on areas that aren’t going to be played immediately. You would use a seeder that doesn’t disturb the surface on fine turf areas like golf greens. But you may prefer to use a seeder that creates ‘plant pots’ and sow the seed as part of a top-dressing operation in spring or autumn renovation work or for a grass exchange.
The volume of seeding to be undertaken will determine the size of seeder required. Handheld equipment is available for applying seed to very small areas, especially for work on ornamental lawns or for patching up fine turf. Cricket wickets and bowling greens are more likely to make use of pedestrian machines while larger areas, such as pitches and golf courses, will require tractor-mounted equipment. If purchasing the latter, be sure the seeder will match your existing tractor.
Whatever type of seeder you need, check that it is accurate. The mechanism that spreads the seed is important. It’s got to be precise in the way it directs the seed onto or into the ground. The accuracy of seeding systems has improved dramatically in the past 10 to 15 years.
Hopper capacity will normally reflect the situation for which the kit is intended. Most are of an adequate size but if you are a contractor expecting to seed large areas, the volume is crucial if work rates are to be maintained.
As with all machinery, it is important to check the quality of construction. Don’t forget to ask about the warranty and dealer back up in terms of servicing and spare parts. And, where necessary, think about how the equipment is to be transported between sites.
What Kit? cannot choose a new machine for you but we can simplify the first stage of gathering manufacturers’ information. Our tables will answer many of your questions — up to the essential how much does it cost? — but remember these prices are only a guide and will vary from dealer to dealer. Companies and models included in the tables are in response to a questionnaire. Omission of any company or model does not imply criticism.
It is important to remember that the best buying decisions are taken after you have tried the machine for yourself. Wherever possible, try to get a demonstration or a trial in similar conditions to those you expect to use the item in.

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