Making sure you have the right kit for the seed and site will save you time and money.

With prices up to £90 a bag for perennial ryegrass and a staggering £20 per kilo for pure bents, grass seed remains expensive. When you are spending that much money, you want to be sure none of the seed goes to waste.
Several factors contribute to the maximisation of germination rates. Obviously, there is the seed itself — the freshness, viability and selection of right cultivars for the site, conditions and use — but good seedbed preparation is also essential. And getting the most seed-to-soil contact, at the right depth in the soil, will encourage germination.
A good seeding machine should save money through accuracy in terms of sowing rates and seed placement. A wide range of seeding systems is available. The one that best suits your needs, and is most likely to save on seed, will depend on the type of seed, where it is to be applied and in what volumes.
Contractors that need to sow seeds of bentgrasses one day and coarser ryegrass seeds the next should look for machines that can be quickly and easily adjusted from one seed type to another. Not all seeders can handle the extremely find seed of bentgrass cultivars.
Sowing seed into bare soil will require some form of seed drill that creates a tilth and buries the seed at just the right depth. Seed should not be placed more than five millimetres into the soil or the grass seedlings are unlikely to emerge.
As a part of turf maintenance practice, it is common to sow seed into an existing sward with the intention of increasing the sward density, renovating worn areas or as a process of species exchange. Sowing into existing swards requires an overseeding machine.
There are three main types of overseeder. First, there are those that bring about little or no surface disturbance. These are generally used on fine turf surfaces, such as golf greens. There are overseeders that disturb the surface and create a slit in preparation to receive the seed. Some create a dent or tiny “pot” into which the seed is dropped before being covered with a top dressing. These last two types are used on surfaces that are not going to be played immediately and are often incorporated into spring or autumn renovation works.
The volume of seeding to be undertaken will indicate the most appropriate seeding machine for the job. Handheld equipment is suitable for applying seed to very small areas — perhaps on ornamental lawns or for patching up fine turf.
Cricket wickets, bowling greens and tennis courts are more likely to make use of pedestrian machines, while larger areas, such as pitches and golf courses, require the high productivity of tractor-mounted or trailed seeding machines. You need to consider how the machine will be transported if you work on several sites.
Whatever type of seeder you choose, check out the mechanism. It must be precise in the way it directs the seed on to or into the ground and can seriously affect the accuracy of seed application and the final results.
Also check the capacity of the hopper. This will normally reflect the applications for which the machine is intended and becomes more important where large volumes of seed are to be applied. Stopping to refill the hopper can reduce the overall work rate. Also, check out the quality of construction. You may only have a small window of opportunity for sowing seed, so you will need the machine to be reliable. Ask about the warranty and dealer back-up in terms of servicing and spare parts.
The best buying decisions are taken after you have tried the machine for yourself. If possible, try to see a demonstration or trial of the equipment in similar conditions to those you expect to encounter. Horticulture Week cannot choose a new machine for you, but we can simplify the first stage of gathering manufacturers’ information. Our table will answer many of your questions, but remember that prices are only a guide and will vary from dealer to dealer.
Information included in the table is in response to a questionnaire. Omission of any company or model does not imply criticism.

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