You still need, however, to make sure that the machine has a hopper capacity appropriate to the volume of seed. Stopping to refill the hopper reduces overall work rate. Remember that a cover or lid on the hopper will help to prevent seed blowing away, getting damp or becoming contaminated with dirt.
Before buying a machine you should also think about where it will be stored, how it will be moved or transported to site and what limitations site access puts on the width of machinery.
You need to make sure that any machine is suitable for the species of seed you want to sow and in all cases make sure that the seeding mechanism is precise in the way it directs the seed to or into the ground. Consider how deep the seed needs to be sown. Calibration for different sowing rates and the adjustments for different species and sowing depth should be as simple as possible. Finally, think about whether it would be useful if the seeding machine were capable of both overseeding and initial seeding.
The vast majority of seeding machines available in the UK are tractor-mounting units and intended for work on sports pitches and golf courses. Of the few motorised pedestrian seeders offered, I suggest you be sure to look at the Ryan Mataway, the Classen and perhaps the Turfsaver.
The Ryan Mataway is available from Ransomes Jacobsen and is designed to dethatch, overseed or undertake both tasks at the same time. Working width is just 48cm, though overall width is 90cm, and cutting depth is adjustable. Hopper capacity is 0.02cu m and the seed gate features automatic shut-off. Weight, including hopper and reels, is 210kg.
The Mataway has clear seed tubes to allow visual checks to monitor the seed flow and the diamond-shaped sliding seed openings allow for metering most seed mixes. Seed outlets are spaced at 50mm. The power for this belt-driven machine comes from a four-stroke petrol engine. The price - take a deep breath - is £6,021 ex VAT.
Less expensive is the Classen, with 51cm working width, blade spacing of 38mm and five preset working depths. Available from JSM Distribution, the TSS-20 costs £2,750 ex VAT and is a self-propelled, hydrostatic machine with infinite speed up to 3.4mph. It can be converted to a dethatcher or vertical cutter in minutes by changing the blades and is powered by 5.5hp Honda or B&S engine. A nice touch with this machine is the fact that the hopper can be removed quickly - it is just one pin - to empty out excess seed.
The TurfSaver from DJ Turfcare also represents dethatching, linear aerating, seeding combination. This one has a 9hp Honda engine providing power for four forward speeds up to 3mph and reverse. Normal blade spacing is 40mm but a finer setting of 20mm gives increased seed penetration. Weight is just 93kg. Price is £3,479 ex VAT.
Sally Drury has reported for HW and its forerunner GC&HTJ for 27 years and has spent more than five years testing machinery for HW and What Kit? The advice in this helpline is independent.