Hi, I have the opportunity to purchase a used chain harrow. I have a 39 HP tractor and a rotary tiller. Any fields i plant new seeding in, such as alfalfa forage mix, or straight buckwheat is hand broadcasted. I work 1/2 acres plat at a time. What i was wondering is the use of a chain harrow beneficial to drag over the seed to bury them, and will it bury them or drag them around in a inconsistent manner so that seeds are not spread out evenly. I don’t want to purchase a seed drill, it doesn’t make $$ sense to me on such a small scale.
I don’t think I’ve personally ever seen anyone use a chain harrow for this purpose. As you mentioned I would be worried about inconsistent and patchy gemrination after dragging the chain harrow over the seeds. I would use a packer instead, your germination rate will be much greater once the seeds make good contact with the soil versus being broadcast and left to germinate. I’m not sure the chain harrow would improve contact at all. A low-tech DIY packer is also quite doable if money is an issue.
I used to broadcast seeds as well and since I didn’t have a packer I would run an S-tine cultivator or a disc harrow over the area shallowly (1/2" to 3/4" deep depending on seed size) to lightly cover the seeds with soil (which also helps keep the birds from eating the seeds), and that gave me good results.
You could also try frost seeding next year and see how well that works for you, though you can’t do that with just any type of seed.
I probably wouldn’t use a chain harrow for the reasons mentioned. A tooth harrow is a different story if you can control the depth. The packer is a good idea, especially the tooth style (cultipacker) especially in clay soils. You will find that you can find good deals on older grain drills. Get one with a small seed box if you can. Good luck!
Ok, that was great, I got my question answered. Thanks Denis and Mike. Hummm, I have a very broken cultipacker that i could get rebuilt to suit my tractor. Thanks again.
I use a chain harrow to incorporate cover crops and it works beautifully! At first I used an old roller and when that collapsed, just the wide turf tires of my old small Ford tractor. Now I make one pass with the chain harrow and hope for rain.