This is not necessary from March to April. The common recommendation to seed no deeper than 25 mm still applies in dry conditions.
Things to consider:
Field topography. Shallow seeding into dry hilly land may result in uneven emergence if seeds in low spots have enough moisture to germinate even without a rain event. However, in these fields, deep seeding to reach moisture may not necessarily be an improvement. Uneven emergence is still a strong possibility. The good news is that seeds emerging first in these lower areas may mature later due to better moisture and fertility, so in the end, differences in emergence date between low spots and hill tops may even out later in the season.
Soil type. Growers may get away with deeper seeding — at 25mm instead of 12mm — in lighter soils. Sandier soil tends to dry out faster on top, so moisture and seedbed conditions would be better at this slightly deeper depth.
The tillage effect. In tilled fields, the top layer will be dusty in dry conditions, so seeding at 25mm instead of 12mm could be a benefit. No till is ideally suited to areas that tend to be dry.
Seeding rate. Seeding deeper than recommended will often require a higher seeding rate to meet target plant stands, given that seedling mortality will be higher in deep soils — especially with the added stress of dry conditions.
Seed-placed fertiliser. In dry conditions, the risk of seed and seedling loss from fertiliser is higher. Consider lowering the rates of seed-placed fertiliser in dry conditions.
Seed doesn’t have to be IN moisture. Seed placed on moisture is OK when seeding deeper because the additional soil above the seed row slows that moisture loss. Make sure the seed row is well packed to seal in that moisture, allow for some moisture migration, provide good seed-to-soil contact, and prevent further drying out.
Recognise that deeper seeding will increase seed and seedling mortality. Add 10% to the seeding rate to compensate.
Deeper seeding can increase seedling disease risk. Part of the increased mortality with deep seeding is due to increased exposure to seedling pathogens. Deeper seeding means more plant material underground — material that is exposed to pathogens. Seedlings stressed to reach the surface due to deep seedling may also be more vulnerable to disease. This seedling disease risk can be higher in fields with canola in shorter rotations.
Put starter phosphate in the seed row. Keep to the recommended safe rates of phosphorus, probably about 22kg/ha of actual phosphate — or lower depending on your seedbed utilisation. The nitrogen component of ammonium phosphate can damage seed and seedlings at rates higher than that. This risk is higher in dry conditions.
Consider the crusting risk. For heavier soils, a rain before canola emergence could create a crust above the seed row. Because deep seeded canola tends to take longer to emerge, the risk of rain before emergence is higher. Bare soils are more prone to crusting than soils with higher surface residue. With wet conditions, growers may have tilled or harrowed soils that they may not have tilled in the past. In this case, the risk of crusting may be increased relative to past experience.
Heavy rain could also fill in furrows. Instead of 37mm of soil cover, it could be 75mm if the knife point and press wheel combination creates a deep seed trench that fills with mud after a rain.
Slow down when seeding deep to more closely manage seed depth for all rows. At higher speeds, back rows tend to throw more dirt over the front rows.