Yes, flying on or floating on wheat and canola seed will work in a wet year – sort of, says Han Kandel, NDSU Extension agronomist.
Both airplanes and floaters can be used for distributing seed, he says. One advantage of using a floater is that both fertilizer and seed can be broadcast at the same time. If fertilizer has not been applied, simultaneously applying fertilizer and seed could significantly reduce the time and cost of doing those operations separately.
But to ensure a good stand, seed after being broadcast must be incorporated. Incorporation of seeds ensures that they will imbibe sufficient moisture for germination. Furthermore, seedlings emerging from seeds with at least a half inch of soil covering will develop a more optimum adventitious root system and will be less prone to lodging.
Harrows (rotary, medium and heavy) and light cultivators have been reported to be used successfully to incorporate seed, Kandel says.
"Generally, establishing small grain crops by broadcasting with a plane without cultivation is not successful. Given the cost of the seed and the airplane rental, this approach is risky. If it is too wet to harrow after seeding, then it is probably too wet to broadcast seed."
Broadcast seeding works best in soils that were tilled in the fall. For fields with residue, more aggressive harrowing may be required to make sure that seeds are adequately incorporated.
Increasing the seeding rate by 10% to 20% is justified given that some of the seeds will not establish because of sub-optimal conditions (poor seed/soil contact) for germination.
Source: NDSU Crop and Pest Report