Although widespread moisture this winter created unfamiliar challenges for folks in some parts of the country, another benefit of the extraordinary wet spell is the chance to add legumes to pastures this spring.
“One of the challenges to successfully adding legumes to grass sod is getting the seed into the soil,” explains Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska Extension forage specialist. “Frost seeding by broadcasting seed onto the sod has not been very successful in Nebraska, so I recommend using a drill whenever possible. Finding a suitable no-till drill to cut through the sod often is difficult, however. And regular grain drills often aren’t heavy or strong enough to do the job.”
But this spring might be different, he adds, as the ground is soft from the winter moisture and recent rain. “And it looks like it might stay that way for awhile. So your regular grain drill just might be able to cut through that soft sod, placing your legume seeds directly in contact with the moist mineral soil, nice and shallow, about ¼-in. deep.”
In his part of the world, Anderson recommends getting legumes planted within the next four weeks. “You probably also need to add 20-40 lbs./acre of phosphorus to enhance legume seedling vigor,” he says. “Adding some directly to the seed or banding right above the seed often is best; broadcasting also works well."