What equipment do I need for direct seeding and transplanting?
Answer: Direct seeding requires contact between the seed and the soil so that the crop can establish itself once it germinates. Spin seeders are used for broadcasting cover-crop seeds at a set desired rate. They can be handheld or tractor mounted. Light harrowing, raking, irrigating, or adequate rainfall will help ensure good seed-to-soil contact. Other types of seeders should be used for crops that need to be planted in the soil at a uniform spacing and depth. These include precision seeders, pinpoint seeders, stick- or jab-type seeders, and drills. Precision seeders can be manually pushed or tractor mounted and dispense individual seeds in a furrow. Seeds can be singulated through several different mechanisms, including cups, belts, vacuums, plates, and rollers. For small-scale farms, Glaser, Earthway, and Jang are brand names of precision push seeders that use plates or rollers. The Stanhay uses belts, and the Nibex uses cups?both are available as walk-behind push seeders or toolbar-mounted seeders. Many of these single-row seeders offer attachments that can connect seeders together for seeding multiple rows, attach seeders to a wheel hoe, or mount seeders with a fertilizer attachment. Pinpoint seeders are designed to be manually pulled and perform well for greenhouse planting. Medium- to large-sized seeds can be hand planted through a stick- or jab-type seeder that can also plant through plastic mulch. Seed drills also are available for manual or tractor-mounted seeding. Discs can be set for the size of the seed, but thinning may be necessary to achieve proper spacing between plants. Planet Jr. is a classic name associated with vegetable drills. Drills can also be used for planting grains and cover crops.Regarding transplants, setting them out helps to extend the growing season and harvest. Many farmers transplant crops by hand using a trowel, a dibbler, or a jab-style planter, but mechanical transplanters can speed up the planting process with more accuracy and less labor. Mechanical transplanters require one person to drive the tractor while a crew of one or more people drops transplants into the soil. Many farmers have designed simple sled-type transplanters that allow the crew to sit or lie down while they transplant by hand.Commercial transplanters have a shoe, coulter, or some other device to open the planting furrow. They also have a closing wheel that packs the seedlings, which are held on trays, in place once they are planted. Water-wheel transplanters inject water into the hole after the plant is set. Other types of transplanters include the gripper type, the carousel, the spade type, and the no-till transplanter.Learn more in the ATTRA publication Equipment and Tools for Small-Scale Intensive Crop Production. It details equipment and hand tools for soil preparation, planting, and weed management. The use of appropriate equipment and tools, both in terms of size and practicality, can increase production efficiency and profits while minimizing the disturbance to soil and to plant health. A list of further resources and tool and equipment suppliers is included.Note: The mention of specific brand names or companies is for educational purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by NCAT, ATTRA, or USDA.