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Agriculture Resource Management: Native Grass Program

Minnesota native grasses (those growing here prior to the time of European settlement) are well adapted to our unique climate and soils. Native grasses generally need less maintenance and care while providing the following benefits: Dakota SWCD Truax Native Grass Drill

  • Develops deep root systems
  • Out-competes Noxious Weeds
  • Provides long term erosion control
  • Provides excellent winter habitat
  • Provides valuable spring nesting cover
  • Deters pocket gophers
  • Establishes on droughty or unproductive soils
  • Is an excellent wetlands and streams buffer

Will conventional drills plant native grasses?

If you are planning to plant native grasses (warm season grasses) on your conservation easements (CRP, WB, or RIM), be aware that many of these grasses do not establish well with conventional methods because:

  • Seed planted too deep will not germinate
  • Seed is too fine and passes through conventional drills
  • Seed is too fluffy and does not pass through conventional drills

Special site preparations and a specialized drill are needed to assure a successful planting.

Where can I get a drill specialized for the planting of native grasses?

The Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), in an effort to provide more service to the public and the environment, has made available to rent a 10' Truax Native Grass No-Till Drill. Rental charges are $100 for setup plus $15 per acre.

Service provided by the SWCD

SWCD staff will assist you in the planting of native grasses by providing the following:

  • Transport the drill to your location
  • Calibrate the drill for your seed mixture
  • Assist with the loading of seed into drill
  • Check the planting depth (adjust if needed)
  • Troubleshooting or answering questions

Tips for drilling

Slow down - Planting native grass seed should be done at 3-5 MPH. This ensures proper seed placement, higher germination rates, and reduces packing and clumping of fluffy seed.
Proper depth - The proper depth for planting is 1/4 inch. Seed planted deeper than1/2 inch will probably not germinate.
Filling the seed box - Fill the seed box loosely. Packed seed will cause the calibration to be inaccurate.
Monitor the seed level - Keep the seed level in the drill box above the agitator shaft.
Soil moisture at planting - If the soil is wet enough to stick to the drill coulters, it is too wet to plant. Fluffy native grass seed will stick to the soil on the coulters and result in poor germination or an uneven stand of native grass.
Monitor the drill - Make sure the drop tubes are not clogged. If a tube is clogged, unplug it immediately.
Recheck the rate - Check the rate during planting to make sure the calibration is accurate.
Transporting to the next field - Seed settles and packs when the drill is moved while out of gear. If you relocate to the next field, manually fluff the seed in the drill box before planting again.

Financial Incentive Programs:

Incentive Payment Program
Native Prairie Restoration Program