Haybuster Drill
Haybuster Drill

Native Grass & Drill 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:

  • 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, WRP, 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 Wilkin 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' Haybuster Native Grass No-Till Drill. The rental rate is $10.00 per acre with a $150 minimum or we can custom seed your site for $30.00 per acre with a $300 minimum.

Where can I get the grass seed? 

The Wilkin SWCD can order you grass seed for your conservation plan. We contact local grass suppliers to try and get the best price for you.



  • 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 ¼ inch. Seed planted deeper than ½ 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.

What other options do I have if I can't drill my seed?  Landowners unable to drill their acres can spread or float their seed onto a smooth, firm, wee free seed bed.  Landowners using this seeding method must increase their seeding rate by 50 percent and lightly drag the site.