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Hand machines are of various kinds. Those most in favor for ordinary sowing consist of a seeder wheeled over the ground on a frame resembling that of a wheelbarrow. It sows about 12 feet in width at each cast of the seed. It enables the sower to sow the seed while considerable wind is blowing and to sow it quite evenly, but it is not adapted to the sowing of all kinds of grass and clover mixtures, which it may be desirable to sow together, since they do not always feed out evenly, owing to a difference in size, in weight, in shape and in the character of the covering
When clover seed is sown with the grain drill, it is sometimes sown separately from grain; that is, without a nurse crop, and is deposited in the soil by the same tubes. But it is only some makes of drills that will do this. Clover seed, and especially alfalfa, may be thus sown with much advantage on certain of the Western and Southern soils, especially on those that are light and open in character, and when the seed is to be put in without a nurse crop. Eastern soils are usually too heavy to admit of depositing the seed thus deeply, but to this there are some exceptions.
When sown with a nurse crop, the seed is in some instances mixed with the grain before it is sown. In some instances it is mixed before it is brought to the field. At other times it is added when the grain has been put in the seed-box of the drill. This method of sowing is adapted to certain soils of the Western prairies and to very open soils in some other localities, but under average conditions it buries seeds too deeply. There is the further objection that they all grow in the line of the grain plants and are more shaded than they would be otherwise. Nevertheless, under some conditions this method of sowing the plants is usually satisfactory.
One of the most satisfactory methods of sowing clover seeds along with a nurse crop is to sow the clover with a "seeder attachment;" that is, an attachment for sowing small seeds, which will deposit the same before or behind the grain tubes as may be desired. The seed is thus sown at the same time as the grain, and in the process is scattered evenly over the surface of the ground. These seeder attachments, however, will not sow all kinds of clover and grass mixtures any more than will hand-sowing machines do the same.
Depth to Bury the Seed.—The depth to bury the seed varies with the conditions of soil, climate and season. Clover seeds, like those of grasses, are buried most deeply in the light soils of the prairie so light that they sink, so as to make walking over them unusually tiresome when working on newly plowed land, and in other instances so light as to lift with the wind. On such soils the seeds may be buried to the depth of 2 to 3 inches. On loam soils, a covering of 1 inch or less would be ample, and on stiff clays the covering may even be lighter under normal conditions.
Clover seeds are buried more deeply in dry than in moist climates, and also more deeply in dry portions of the year than when moisture is sufficient. While it may be proper in some instances to scatter the seeds on the surface without any covering other than is furnished by rain or frost, it will be very necessary at other seasons to provide a covering to insure a stand of the seed.
When clover seed is sown on ground honeycombed with frost, no covering is necessary. When sown on winter grain in the spring, the ground not being so honeycombed, covering with the harrow is usually advantageous. When sown on spring crops and early in the season, it may not be necessary to cover the seed, except by using the roller, even though the seed should fall behind the grain tubes while the grain crop is being sown, or should be sown subsequently by hand. In other instances the harrow should be used, and sometimes both the roller and the harrow. Under conditions such as appertain to New England and the adjacent States to Ontario and the provinces east and to the land west of the Cascade Mountains, clover and also grass seeds do not require so much of a covering as when sown on the prairie soils of the central portion of the continent.
Sowing Alone or in Combinations.—Whether clover seed should be sown alone or in combination with the seeds of other grasses will depend upon the object sought in sowing it. When sown to produce seed, it is usually sown without admixture, but not in every instance; when sown to produce hay, it is nearly always sown in mixtures, but to this there are some exceptions; when sown to produce pasture, it is almost invariably sown with something
else; and when sown to enrich the land, it is, in all, or nearly all, instances, sown without admixture.
When sown primarily to produce seed, there are no good reasons why timothy and probably some other grasses may not be sown with medium red and mammoth clover, when pasture is wanted from the land in the season or seasons immediately following the production of seed.
The presence of these grasses may not seriously retard the growth of the clover plants until after they have produced seed, and subsequently they will grow more assertively and produce pasture as the clover fails. Moreover, should they mature any seed at the same time that the clover seeds mature, they may usually be separated in the winnowing process, owing to a difference in the size of the seeds. But timothy should not be sown with alsike clover that is being grown for seed, since the seeds of these are so nearly alike in size that they cannot be separated.
When hay is wanted, the practice is very common of sowing timothy along with the medium red, mammoth and alsike varieties of clover. Timothy grows well with each of these; supports them to some extent when likely to lodge; matures at the same time as the mammoth and alsike clovers; comes on more assertively as the clovers begin to fail, thus prolonging the period of cropping or pasturing; and feeds upon the roots of the clovers in their decay.
Next to timothy, redtop is probably the most useful grass to sow with these clovers, and may in
some instances be added to timothy in the mixtures. Some other grasses may also be added under certain conditions, or substituted for timothy or redtop. In certain instances, it has also been found profitable to mix certain of the clovers in addition to adding grass seeds when hay is wanted. The more important of these mixtures will be referred to when treating of growing the different varieties in subsequent chapters. When growing them, the aim should be to sow those varieties together which mature about the same time. The advantages from growing them together for hay include larger yields, a finer quality of hay, and a more palatable fodder.
In the past it has been the almost uniform practice to sow alfalfa alone, but this practice is becoming modified to some extent, and is likely to become more so in the future, especially when grown for pasture.
When sown to produce pasture, unless for one or two seasons, clover seed is sown in various mixtures of grasses in all or nearly all instances. The grasses add to the permanency of the pastures, while the clovers usually furnish abundant grazing more quickly than the grasses. Several of them, however, are more short-lived than grasses usually are, hence the latter are relied upon to furnish grazing after the clovers have begun to fail. In laying down permanent pastures, the seed of several varieties is usually sown, but in moderate quantities. The larger the number of the varieties sown that are adapted to the conditions, the more varied, the more pro