Oklahoma State University

Planting Method

Planting Method

Switchgrass can be successfully established using several seeding practices. There are few definitive comparisons on whether a seedbed prepared using clean tillage or some form of minimum tillage is the better method for establishing switchgrass. If either method is used properly, they both should result in similar establishment under similar environmental and management conditions.

Clean-tilled seedbeds are the most widely used and have numerous advantages. The most notable advantage is it is easy to seed, since there is no plant residue on the surface. Likewise, accurate seed placement is more easily attainable if the seedbed is clean and firm. If the seedbed is not firm, the seed may be placed too deep and may not emerge following germination. A disadvantage to clean-tilled seedbeds is increased wind or water erosion potential, since there is no plant residue on the soil surface.

Mulch seedbeds can be used in environments that are prone to either wind or water erosion. Basically, the mulch crop is grown in place and not harvested. Additionally, most crops used in the management of mulch seedbeds are annuals. In most cases, it is not necessary to kill the mulch. The residue may control weed competition, but the greatest advantages are the potential for improved water retention through increased infiltration and decreased evapotranspiration.

There are disadvantages to using mulch seedbeds. It takes more time to grow the mulch and requires additional planning. Another disadvantage is seeding will be more difficult because of the mulch. To overcome this, it is crucial a no-till drill be used to plant through the mulch.

No-till establishment of switchgrass may include planting into small grain stubble after graze-out or haying. The small grain should be killed with herbicide to remove competition with the switchgrass seedlings. A herbicide can be applied within a few days of planting switchgrass and should control any weeds, as well as the small grain crop. Fertilizer and lime applications for switchgrass must be made before planting the small grain crop in this case.

Document Actions