With your soil prepared you will now think about planters for seed or seedlings. This will enable you to get the seed, or seedlings, into the ground, in straight rows, at the required intervals and at the right depth.
For fine seeds there are hand-operated broadcasters, push-carts or tractor drawn spreaders. For small scale planting of seeds for grass, small grains, lucerne, radish, carrot, onion, etc push planters are practical. The planting depth can be adjusted from 0-20mm.
There are also tractor drawn fine seed planters available in various working widths.
For larger seeds such as maize and pumpkin there are hand-operated planters, and small wheeled push-planters, as well as multi-row tractor-drawn planters. In some cases the planter part is supplemented by a fertilizer unit which deposits a small amount of granular nutrient at the same time.
The simplest hand seed planter works by simply pressing the business end into the soil, which is why it is sometimes called a jab planter. The hand planter is a lightweight device that helps you plant at the same depth and distance for a uniform crop. It is likely to have an adjustable meter that gives you control for accuracy and flexibility.
There are also hand-held planters which combine seed planting and application of fertiliser at the same time. So through one digging action the user can dig, plant seed and fertilise all in one action. You can push or pull the device. These are suitable for small grain seeds as well as maize, sunflower, beans and sorghum.
Then there are animal drawn planters. There is still a place for non-mechanised animal drawn agricultural implements. They are usually drawn by two oxen or donkeys and have an adjustable ripper tine for planting depth adjustment. There can also be different settings for seed spacing intervals. Sometimes the planter includes a facility for adding fertiliser at the same time.
You might also use two wheel tractors or mini-tractors to draw planters. Larger planters can be drawn by full scale tractors.
There are even soil tine & double disc seeders with which you can sow any seed into any surface – cereals, grasses, clovers, brassicas, peas, maize and all mixtures into grassland, stubbles, ploughed and cultivated land and direct into standing cover crops. However they will be out of most smallholders’ league.
And planting seedlings need not be a back-breaking affair either.
At the smallest level there is a very simple hand-held transplanter available for planting vegetable seedlings.
There are also tractor drawn transplanters where one or two operators sit on the implement as it is pulled along. They place seedling plugs from their trays into holders that plunge them into the soil at the required spacing and depth. Once again though, this kind of equipment is beyond the needs of the average small scale farmer.
You can use many planters in conventional cultivation settings or in no till or minimum till farming.
This is the final article in our series on cultivation. To read the rest, click here.