3. Seedbed smoothness and firmness:
Seedbed firmness and smoothness are not as critical with large-seed blends but before planting these products, the seedbed should be disked or tilled; once that’s done, there is no need to smooth or firm the seedbed further before seeding. Seedbed smoothness and firmness are much more important when preparing to plant any forage product. All other forages are small-seed blends, and as such they should be planted on or very near the surface of the soil (no deeper than 1/4-inch). Once the seedbed has been disked or tilled, then the seedbed should be (A) smoothed so that it is free of all cracks, and (B) firmed to the point that your boot tracks sink down no more than one-half to one inch when you walk out into the plot. There are two ways to smooth and firm a seedbed after disking or tilling: with a weighted drag-type implement, or with a cultipacker (a roller). As I’ll explain below, which one you use to smooth and firm the seedbed is critical to what, if anything, you should do after putting your seed out.
STEP 4: Plant each site correctly
Once your seedbed has been limed and disked, add fertilizer as called for in your soil test report. If no soil test is available, then add the amount and blend of fertilizer recommended in the planting instructions for the product. Add your fertilizer just before you plant so that the nitrogen in the fertilizer will be at full strength. Once the seedbed has been fertilized and lightly disked in, you’ll need to smooth and firm the seedbed before you put the seed out. How firm and smooth the seedbed should be depends on what forage product you’re planting. The biggest difference concerns seed size.